In normal times, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to a Senate committee would have been an earthshaking event. Comey said that, after his firing last month, the White House told “lies, plain and simple” about him and the FBI. Comey said that, in ways he didn’t with other presidents, he immediately wrote memos detailing his conversations with President Donald Trump because he worried Trump would later lie about them.
But these are not normal times, and there is a chance that Comey’s testimony in some ways could help the president. Comey explicitly said he had told Trump that the president was not under investigation in the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election — contrary to a Tuesday CNN report and just as Trump has repeatedly claimed. Comey also refused to characterize anything the president had done as being against the law. And Comey largely discredited a Feb. 14 New York Times story that alleged Trump’s campaign aides “had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence.”
Trump and his supporters have other reasons to be relieved. Most of Comey’s toughest comments had already been on America’s front pages because of a leak that Comey acknowledged Thursday he had orchestrated. And if Comey left uncertainty by declining to answer some questions, his remarks can be seen as shoring up Trump’s contention that Democrats and the media haven’t made a case for the claim that he and his campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin to steal the White House.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE