On Friday afternoon, Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis that was a brief, but powerful, category 5 shitshow. Joint press conferences don't usually afford much room to screw up since they typically consist of two questions each for the U.S. and visiting press, but Trump made the most of his moment in the sun.
Trump began by undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with a strident rant about Qatar mere hours after Tillerson called for an easing of tensions. Then, Trump gave his first question to Dave Boyer from the conservative Washington Times.
In addition to reiterating his false assertions that Comey's testimony “vindicated” him, and that Comey is “a leaker,” Trump played Reality Show Host-in-Chief by promising to reveal whether he has tapes of his meetings with Comey “sometime in the very near future” (he later spoiled his own reveal by telling reporter they would be “very disappointed” with the answer).
Then, after whining about his treatment by the “killer networks” who spread “fake news,” Trump told ABC News' Jon Karl that he would “one-hundred percent” be willing to testify under oath to the multiple lies he told at the presser, among them that he never asked Comey for his loyalty or tried to quash the Flynn investigation.
That dare will likely dominate coverage of the press conference, and of the entire political world for “a short period of time,” as Trump likes to say. It's yet another Trump Band-Aid to shift the narrative, and it will work for a while. “It'll be Trump's word against Comey's” is really the best he can hope for right now, even though that's not actually true, and Trump's word is slightly more worthless than a Trump University diploma.
It's likely that Trump also hasn't thought this gambit through (shocking, I know, but stay with me here), because he really is every idiot at the end of every bar ever. Obviously, a man who would obstruct justice in the first place would not hesitate to lie about it under oath, unless he thought he could get caught. Somebody must have told Trump that because he cleared the room before he obstructed justice, it really will be just his word against James Comey's.
There are a few problems with that, starting with the fact that Comey has receipts. Comey's contemporaneous memos carry great weight as evidence in a court of law, whereas Trump's declarations? Not so much. Picture the idiot at the bar trying to beat a traffic ticket by telling the judge the cop is lying. Same principle.
There's also the possibility that someone told Trump how difficult a perjury case is to prosecute, which is true. Comey's memos may be enough to prove obstruction, but not perjury, so what does Trump have to lose by testifying?
There are, of course, a couple more problems with that, too. Once Trump is under oath, his every utterance becomes subject to penalty of perjury, which means he could easily spew an infinity pool's worth of actionable falsehoods that would be easier to verify than his private communications with Comey.
The other problem is that he would have to get his outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, to risk being disbarred or imprisoned for suborning perjury. Trump may have complete confidence in his barroom logic, but that's an awfully big risk for Kasowitz to take. Subornation doesn't require Trump to have told Kasowitz he's lying, but only that Trump's testimony be outside what he “would reasonably have believed in the circumstances of the matter discussed in the testimony.”
One of two things will happen now. Eventually, either Trump will insist on testifying under oath and Kasowitz will quit, or Trump and his team will think up an excuse to get him out of it. Trump is just stupid and stubborn enough to do the former, but it will probably be the latter.
Get those “plead the Fifth” tweets and clips out of the archives, folks. You're going to need them.
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.