Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, where he is expected to reveal details of what amounts to President Donald Trump's attempt to obstruct the FBI investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as Trump's attempt to get Comey to drop the investigation into disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Comey's testimony could have serious consequences for Trump, especially if he corroborates elements of the obstruction of justice charge that has been bandied about regarding his meetings with Trump. In advance of that testimony, the Senate Intelligence Committee ought to review the bombshell video of Trump threatening to fire Comey weeks before he made good on the threat.
In a much-overlooked interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo in April, Trump told Bartiromo that it was “not too late” for him to fire Comey and that he would have to “see what happens”:
BARTIROMO: ... scratching their heads why so many Obama-era staffers are still here. For example, was it a mistake not to ask Jim Comey to step down from the FBI at the outset of your presidency? Is it too late now to ask him to step down?
TRUMP: No, it's not too late. But, you know, I have confidence in him. We will see what happens. You know, it's going to be interesting.
Apparently, Trump “saw what happened” and didn't like it, because he made good on the threat several weeks later.
But there's more. Trump initially claimed that Comey's firing was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's idea, which turned out to be a lie by Trump's own admission. As it happens, Trump laid out the pretext that Rosenstein would later use to explain the Comey firing — the handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation:
Since the Comey firing, Rosenstein has been tight-lipped about whether he was ordered to write the memo that was used as the initial White House cover story, but Trump's interview with Bartiromo heavily suggests that the plan to fire Comey using this excuse was on the stove for a long time before Rosenstein got involved.
As the Trump administration continues to learn the hard way, Donald Trump's own worst enemy is Donald Trump's extremely loose face-hole, and this clear evidence of Trump's plan to obstruct the FBI is yet another hard lesson.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.