Comey Takeaway: Sen. Jim Risch Would Make A Terrible Hitman

Senator Jim Risch is a guy who you can definitely trust to be impartial.

Need proof? No problem.

Just recall his “measured” assessment of what should happen to whoever it was that decided the American people needed to know that Trump leaked classified information to the Russians:

There’s a weasel in here somewhere. This person is a traitor, they’ve committed treason, and they ought to go to prison.

Now to be sure, he’s right about there being “a weasel in here somewhere,” and he’s right that whoever the “weasel” is has “committed treason” and “ought to go to prison.” He’s just wrong about who that person is.

Apparently, the irony inherent in claiming that someone is a traitor and should be sent to prison for telling the press that the President committed treason was lost on Jim.

On Thursday we got still more evidence that Jim doesn’t understand much about nuance.

Consider this exchange that Trump supporters have hilariously (although not surprisingly) suggested is “proof” that the President didn’t try to obstruct justice:

Risch: “Boy you nailed this down on page 5 paragraph 3, you put this in quotes, words matter, you wrote down the words so we could all have the words in front of us now.  There are 28 words there that are in quotes and it says, ‘I hope’, this is the President speaking, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go…I hope you can let this go.'”

“Now those are his exact words, is that correct”

Comey:  “Correct.”

Risch:  “And you wrote them here and you put them in quotes?”

Comey:  “Correct.”

Risch:  “Thank you for that.  He did not direct you to let it go.”

Comey:  “Not in his words, no.”

Risch:“He did not order you to let it go.”

Comey:“Again, those words are not an order.”

Risch:  “He said ‘I hope’.  Now, like me you probably did 100’s of cases, maybe 1,000s of cases charging people with criminal offenses.  And, of course, you have knowledge of the 1,000s of cases out there where people have been charged.  Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice, for that matter of any other criminal offense,  where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?”

Comey:  “I don’t know well enough to answer.  And the reason I keep saying ‘his words’ is I took it as a direction…”

Risch:  “You may have taken it as a direction but that is not what he said.  He said, ‘I hope.’  You don’t know of anyone who has ever been charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement?”

Comey:“I don’t as I sit here.”

Here’s the clip:

 

So what did we learn there?

Well, two things:

  1. James Comey knows that when the President of the United States tells you that he “hopes” something will go away – especially when that something is an investigation into his own administration’s ties to the Kremlin – that’s for all intents and purposes a directive.
  2. Jim Risch would make a really terrible mob soldier. Boss of family: “I wouldn’t mind if Johnny Roast Beef ended up at the bottom of a river.” Risch: “I’m not sure I get what you’re driving at, sir.”

Obviously, Risch was being disingenuous and everyone with any sense knew it (just Google the hilarious reactions). Here’s an example:

Fortunately, Sen. Angus King, I-Maine cleared things up later in the testimony:

***********

 

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16 thoughts on “Comey Takeaway: Sen. Jim Risch Would Make A Terrible Hitman

  1. People “speak” with more than words. I feel confident that Comey has enough on the job experience (probably even seen a few mobster type movies) plus having the reported conversation “in person” can see body language, eye glimpse, tone of voice, to fully and confidently understand exactly what trump was saying. Hell, I wasn’t there and just watching trump give his rally speeches and his constant facial displays, I completely agree, it was most likely 100% exactly what Comey thought it was! c’mon!

    – Murphy

  2. As far as I see it, there are only two possibilities here.

    Possibility one is that Trump committed a crime.

    Possibility two is that, as long as he didn’t actually commit a crime, he is the best president ever, he is the voice of the people, and he’s going to rush through healthcare reform, tax reform, infrastructure reform, and immigration reform that will bring peace and prosperity forever.

  3. H may be a brilliant market analyst, but he’s not much of a lawyer. Kind of sounds like that guy on MSNBC who practiced law for 15 minutes and became their “senior legal correspondent.” Even if you accept all the statements (in quotations!) – that Comey attributes to Trump, it is not (yet) obstruction of justice.

    • Okay, I’ll bite.

      Which MSNBC senior legal correspondent only practiced law for 15 minutes?

      What is the appropriate test for determining the elements of obstruction of justice in the case law of the tribunal before which Trump would, hypothetically, be charged?

      Inquisitive minds want to know.

      • Ari Melber from MSNBC: his “bio” says he “practiced law from 2009 to 2013 specializing in First Amendment, reporter’s privilege and copyright litigation.” That’s nothing – ask any lawyer. Hit the 10-year mark with some real trial experience and you can start flapping your mouth with a hint of credibility. I cringe when I listen to his “legal analysis.” He’s more of a political commentator. Saw him yesterday debating Alan Dershowitz and it was hilarious.

        What is the “appropriate test” regarding obstruction of justice. I found a pretty good analysis of the situation here: https://sidebarsblog.com/did-president-trump-obstruct-justice. In Trump’s case, it would appear to turn on the definition of “corrupt intent.” While I understand that people with strong political views (and a strong dislike of Trump) are quick to decry Trump’s words and actions, it still would require a number of inferences based on what we know at this point to meet that test.

        I think this whole thing may come down to Flynn. It appears he’s looking at 5 years for lying to the FBI. That can be a big motivator for most people. If anyone in Trump’s campaign coordinated or “colluded” with the Russians or WikiLeaks and Flynn can offer that info to Mueller in exchange for immunity, Trump’s situation would change quickly. In Watergate words, the question would become, “What did the President know and when did he know it.”

  4. Anonymous.

    So when you meant 15 minutes, you meant four years. I suspected you were referring to Melber. Here’s the thing: if you want to run down Heisenberg, fine with me. But your comment amounts to saying: Heisenberg isn’t as good a political analyst as he thinks, because there’s this other guy who is actually more experienced than I claim. I suppose I must follow your logic to its conclusion and infer that Heisenberg, too, is actually better at this than you let on.

    Now to the question of your legal analysis, which didn’t answer my question. Although there is some debate on this point, the most common view is that presidents while in office enjoy immunity from facing charges in court. One doesn’t have to go to law school to learn this; it’s an application of the separation of powers that one should know from basic civics. If the president is charged with a crime, it is by Congress, in accordance with the Constitution.

    It follows from that that, since impeachment is a political question rather than a legal one, we must determine whether Trump committed impeachment based on the legal precedents set in impeachment prosecutions in Congress rather than by the legal tests established over time by the judicial system. Put another way, Trump obstructed justice if Congress says he obstructed justice. It seems to me that Heisenberg or anyone else is quite free to legitimately say that Trump’s behavior amounts to obstruction and that Congress should act accordingly.

    I’m sorry for baiting you with those questions, but your original post was at least odd, if not in slightly bad form. Presumably if you feel Heisenberg’s blog has outlived its usefulness to you, you could simply stop reading it.

    • I didn’t realize that the prerequisite for commenting on H’s blog was to 100% agree with his political and legal opinions, assumptions and conclusions. Are you speaking for him?

      You are quite correct that impeachment is (ultimately) a political question, but I disagree with the implication that “legal precedents set in impeachment prosecutions” are or should be viewed as unrelated to underlying offenses viewed through a judicial lens. That’s my view as a lawyer and it’s the basis upon which previous impeachment proceedings have been initiated.

      Presumably if you don’t like my rather benign critiques, you could simply stop reading them.

      • I search in vain for the point in my comment where I asserted one had to agree with Heisenberg on everything.

        Indeed, I believe I even said: “if you want to run down Heisenberg, fine with me.” As a lawyer, presumably your reading comprehension is stronger than that.

        It seems a bit silly to come to someone’s blog and tell them to stop writing posts on the subjects that interest them, though.

  5. Please allow me to point out what or who really matters in calling Trump “guilty” of Obstruction of Justice are the PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES. WE, The People, seem to agree that Trump has indeed obstructed justice and should not continue to be the President of Our United States. WE control the outcome, even it has to wait until 2018 and WE reload who sits in those big seats that decide how he will be handled. The more he continues with his outrageous behavior and his outlandish acts will only enforce OUR strength in numbers. I further submit that WE would prefer to see him legally charged and maybe up that charge to Treason! You know what they say…..give him the rope and he will hang himself….especially this particular doofus who will eventually drown in his own sewage.

    – Murphy

  6. Um, so there is a prerequisite that anyone commenting on H’s blog that one has to 100% agree with his political and legal opinions, assumptions and conclusions? Are you speaking for him?

    BTW, your view that ultimately a “high crime or misdemeanor” is whatever Congress decides through an impeachment proceeding (without regard to judicial precedent) is so far out of mainstream legal thought, it’s barely worth a retort. That’s not meant as an insult. It’s a “fact.”

    I like reading H’s posts on macro analysis. Found him through seeking alpha. If he wants to “censure” me, I’ll await his admonition.

    BTW – and not that I should even have to say it, I am not a Trump supporter. I think he is a disaster. I have many years of experience as a both a lawyer and government affairs executive. I have seen a lot politics up close, and believe me, it’s not pretty. I put neither a D nor an R next to my name.

    • no censorship here. agree, disagree, call us fucking stupid. whatever. we’ve only had one problem so far which was a commenter who persisted in basically demanding that we not talk about politics. that was fine once. and then it was fine twice. and then it was fine a third time. but after about the 12th comment that had no substance whatsoever other than to insist that he was entitled to a politics-free version of a site whose mission statement includes discussing politics, we stepped in. in short: it’s one thing to say “I think you guys are better on markets than you are on politics.” It’s another thing to leave a dozen consecutive comments demanding the right to dictate what we can and can’t say.

      • Thank you Heisenberg. I do try to be respectful and quite understand the raw emotion underlying your political comments. I read your macro posts everyday and learn much from them. I think the domestic political risks are very real and come with obvious market implications. Hence, what I tried to add (perhaps haphazardly) is a more sober analysis of potential impeachment.

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