Three quick thoughts on today’s Comey Senate hearing…
While today’s vote on the Financial CHOICE Act probably represented the most significant legislative action over the last year by the House, all eyes were instead glued to television screens across the Capitol. The Comey hearing was certainly the center of the political universe today.
I would just make three observations.
One, it’s important that Congress do the basics of what Congress has to do. A legislative body can be sidetracked, and if we don’t watch out, this one will be. I talked to a friend back home who expressed dismay with the way in which Washington was seemingly fixated on the sensational that seems to be driving aside changes on things like spending and tax policy that really impact people’s lives. I would in no way diminish the significance of truth in the White House. Nor would I set aside questions with regard to what some would consider an attempt to obstruct an investigation. But as real as those issues are, it is paramount that the work of Congress go on. We have representative government for a reason, and those differing viewpoints are to be infused into legislative ideas that bring about remedy and changes that matter in people’s lives.
Two, today’s hearing was a reminder of how much truth and trust really matter. It’s important in a family. It’s important in a community or a church, just as it is in business. And most of all, it’s important in the public domain where people literally trust in others their ability to have a voice in city halls, state capitols, or even Washington. In the hearing, what came clear was that Comey has a version and Trump has a version. The two versions don’t mesh. I suspect many people will see the version that they like or believe in based on partisan terms, and ultimately this shouldn’t be the way in which we decide the truth. Our republic depends on people having a level of trust in one another, and the hearing today underscored the degree in which much of that has been lost. This phenomenon is very dangerous in our form of government.
Finally, the hearing probably raised more questions than it did answers. Different camps will take their differing views and make arguments going forward based on the soundbites that best fit with what they may believe. It’s very weird that a outgoing FBI director would leak documents. That’s distressing for the way that it is so far from the standard that people believe in with regard to law enforcement or the judiciary. The same could be said of the president dining alone with the person overseeing investigations surrounding the president’s team and, in that environment, the president allegedly asking for an oath of loyalty. That seems hardly the time nor the place, and one has to ask why a chief legal counsel or chief of staff wouldn’t counsel against that type of visit, if even only to prevent the appearance of impropriety.
So I’m left with a host of questions and a bit of distress on the larger picture in which we find ourselves. It’s vital that Congress find a way to move forward on a legislative agenda and in addressing budgetary and debt issues before us. It’s equally important that the truth be found on the differing allegations that are out there, and it’s my hope that over the weeks and months ahead the committees of jurisdiction will be able to do just that.