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Trump Hands Comey a New Weapon
Trump Hands Comey a New Weapon
Having accused the former FBI director of perjury, the president now must prove itor surrender his credibility.
By Mark Joseph Stern
A shorter URL for the above link:
Donald Trump typically claims that anyone who makes him look bad is nothing more than a rotten liar. Political opponents, beauty queens, alleged victims of sexual assault: Trump dismisses them all as fibbers and fabricators, spewing malicious falsehoods to besmirch his character and hurt his agenda. It was therefore no surprise that, following James Comeys extraordinarily damaging testimony on Thursday, Trump accused the former FBI director of issuing many false statements and lies to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He then repeated this allegation at a Friday press conference and offered to go under oath to contradict Comey.
But not all lies are created equaland Trumps charge is not just a mere deflection, designed to dull the impact of Comeys testimony before it fades away altogether. Even if he meant it that way, Trump has still accused Comey of perjury, a federal crime that undermines our legal system and carries serious penalties. He likely doesnt realize the severity of this accusation; he routinely throws perceived enemies under the bus for the sake of political expediency. But this time, his habit will backfire. The presidents reckless barb is certain to escalate the conflict between the two men. And Trump has already given Comey the upper hand.
But a lie an intentional untruth made under oathindisputably qualifies as perjury. And perjury is precisely what Trump alleged on Friday morning by asserting that Comeys testimony was filled with false statements and lies. This claim built on a statement issued by Marc Kasowitz, the presidents attorney, that directly contradicted Comeys testimony by declaring that Trump never told Comey, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty, in form or substance. Comey testified that Trump said exactly that. Kasowitz and, more importantly, Trump himself are calling Comey a perjurer. Meanwhile, Comey, by rejecting Trumps explanation of his firing, is calling the president a liar.
Which means, of course, that somebody is lyingeither the former director of the FBI or the president of the United States. Who you believe might depend on your politics, or your read of each mans character. Comey spent his career building a reputation for independence and candor; Trump, who did quite the opposite, is now defaming him in order to subvert that image of integrity. Fortunately, this particular dispute need not be litigated exclusively in the court of public opinion. Instead, Comey has a clear advantage: He has told his side of the story under penalty of perjury, and it has been corroborated by others.
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