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August 23, 2017

Semantics


Let’s assume your boss calls you into their office, tells you to close the door and sit down. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, shit, what’d I do now?” But let’s leave my insecurity out of it for now, shall we?

Your boss hands you a piece a paper with a name and a phone number on it and proceeds to say the following: “This is the phone number of one of our customers and he’s very upset. If it’s at all possible I hope you can see your way to calling him and finding out what his problem is and then resolving it? I’ve dealt with him before and he’s really a nice guy and a good customer of ours. Okay?”

Now, nowhere it the above paragraph does it say that the boss “ordered” or “directed” the employee to call the customer. Indeed, to the untrained eye, it almost seems as though the boss was merely making a suggestion, not unlike a friend who makes a suggestion as to what restaurant he or she wants to go out to. “You know, we had Mexican last week, how about Chinese tonight? Okay?”

But to the person who’s spent more than ten minutes in the private sector – and I’ve spent a lot more than ten minutes, believe you me – this is anything but a suggestion. While the words “direct” or “order” do not appear in the paragraph, they are implied. This employee has bas been told by their boss to take care of a customer issue and if that employee knows what’s good for them, they will comply.

That’s how the world operates. Bosses tell their subordinates what to do all the time; some couch it differently, but in the end it’s the same thing. Whether a boss says “I order you to do this” or says “If at all possible, I hope you can do this,” is irrelevant. It’s called semantics. One does not have to be a lawyer to come to that conclusion, merely a person capable of using the common sense God gave them.

James Comey knew exactly what Donald Trump meant when he said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” And the reason he knew that was because Trump told Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence to leave the room. In other words, Trump and Comey were all alone in the Oval Office. One does not go to all the trouble of clearing a room to make a “suggestion.” Just the opposite, one goes to all that trouble when what they are about to say is urgent and needs immediate attention. The boss asking their employee to close the door and sit down implies a seriousness that belies even the hint of a suggestion.

But it goes much farther than that. Not only was Trump directing Comey to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn, he was doing so in a manner that suggests he knew he was wrong. You don’t tell your attorney general and vice president to scram if you’re on the up and up. Quite the contrary, you do that when you know full well that what you’re doing is illegal, and you don’t want anybody else to know about it. Comey got that, which is why he took great pains to document his meetings with Trump, all nine of them.

To suggest that because Trump never actually “directed” Comey to drop the Flynn investigation meant that he was not guilty of obstruction, as Idaho senator James Risch did, is absurd. Equally absurd, not to mention insulting, is the comment from Speaker Paul Ryan that Trump is “just new to this.” Really? We’re supposed to believe that a man who has had more litigation experience than Clarence Darrow is somehow “new” to investigations? Now that’s what I call new.

I have two questions for both of these idiots: If either of them were to walk into a bank and hand the teller a note that read, “I hope you can see your way to giving me the money in your vault,” 1) How long do you suppose it would take before he was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and taken away by the cops? and 2) Would any defense attorney worth a damn actually have the balls to argue that his client was “new” to the banking industry? I’m guessing the answer to the former question would be about ten seconds and the answer to the latter would be never.

But in GOP land, where reality has been on hiatus ever since January 20 – some would say longer – both questions are perfectly valid. For four and a half months now, Republicans have been bending over backward trying to justify every stunt this president has pulled. No matter how outlandish or childish his conduct has been, the leadership of the GOP has turned a blind eye or a deaf ear to it.

And as if to add insult to injury, some of them are now going after James Comey for – get this – “leaking” his memos to the press. Yes, you read that right. Comey, not Trump, is the real villain here, because he leaked the contents of his communications with Trump. Never mind that those communications were neither classified nor privileged; never mind that Comey had every right to divulge those contents to whomever he felt like; and never mind that when it comes to releasing sensitive information, this president has been the Leaker in Chief, even before he took office. Trump, through his tweets, has shot himself in the foot so much, it’s a wonder he hasn’t bled to death.

And now this moron says he wants to testify under oath before special counsel Robert Mueller that Comey is the one who’s lying, not him. Can you imagine Trump swearing under oath that he never told Comey to let the Flynn investigation go? Or that he demanded that Comey pledge his loyalty to him? I would love to be a fly on a wall in that room.

Then again, Trump is so brazen in his lies, so smooth in his deception, he might actually pull it off. The man has no moral compass, no discernment between right and wrong and no conscience to speak of. He’s totally incapable of admitting he’s wrong, even when the overwhelming evidence points to it. Next to him Jeffrey Dahmer is just someone with an eating disorder.

What we have here is more than just a textbook case of obstruction of justice and, thanks to his own big mouth, perjury. What we have here is a rogue president who lacks the basic abilities for the position he currently holds. Not only he is a threat to himself, he’s a threat to the country and the world as a whole. Far from evolving into the job, he appears to be regressing.

And the Republican Party has apparently gone along for the ride, totally indifferent to their complicity. History will judge them accordingly. Forty-three years ago, the GOP stood up to a corrupt Republican president and told him he had to go. That was a difficult decision to make, but in the end they put their country before their party.

I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell to follow suit.

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