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Comey Drama A Reminder Presidential Disaster Often Hits In Times Of High Confidence

Former FBI Director James Comey leaves a sealed event with a Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

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Former FBI Director James Comey leaves a sealed event with a Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Updated during 11:05 a.m. ET

Ordinary people mostly get into authorised difficulty in response to unfortunate circumstances. Politicians, however, seem to make a misfortune difficulty for themselves when they are roving high and carrying all before them.

Thus a many famous domestic scandals of U.S. story have happened not when presidents or members of Congress had their backs to a wall though when their sails were filled with a auspicious wind.

In progressing generations we have seen presidents from Warren Harding in a 1920s to Richard Nixon in a 1970s, Ronald Reagan in a 1980s and Bill Clinton in a 1990s raid by liaison — all during a peak of their domestic poke and acclaim.

What these cases have in common is a clarity that these presidents (and a people around them) viewed in their success a special dispensation. They regarded themselves as above it all, giveaway from a rules.

A informed unfolding earnings to Washington

Comey Accuses White House Of 'Lies, Plain And Simple' About His Firing

We are reminded of this now since echoes of a past have been heard in a testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before a Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.

Comey sketched a range of a purported Russian bid to meddle in a 2016 presidential choosing in a U.S.

Comey Opening Statement For Senate Intelligence Hearing, Annotated

He also pronounced he had been dismissed by President Trump over his doing of a FBI review of that division and probable connectors to a Russians among a Trump campaign’s middle circle.

Trump's Lawyer Fires Back After Comey Testimony

With a appointment of Comey’s FBI predecessor, Robert Mueller, as a special warn to examine a Russian division and a propinquity to Trump World, we are entering a new proviso of this story. Remarkably, it appears a Trump White House continues to courtesy it all as domestic badinage some-more than an tangible authorised bearing with huge implications.

And in that sense, they share an opinion with other administrations that have suffered from a myopia about their possess disadvantage — and suffered for it as well.

The theatre is set

President Trump attends an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. governors and mayors in a White House on Thursday, a same day dismissed FBI Director James Comey testified on Capitol Hill.

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President Trump attends an Infrastructure Summit with U.S. governors and mayors in a White House on Thursday, a same day dismissed FBI Director James Comey testified on Capitol Hill.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Late final year, carrying won a presidential choosing few approaching them to win, Trump and Company had a domestic universe during their feet. Republicans as anomalous as Mitt Romney and Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan were peaceful to forget their past rivalry, critique and antithesis to be partial of a new destiny — in use to a new personality of a celebration and a nation.

But in this sunburst of success, a transition organisation around a afterwards president-elect seems to have been blind to what was appearing on a setting — a hazard innate of a campaign’s possess relations with elements of a Russian government.

In his testimony this week, Comey spoke of cyberattacks on “perhaps some-more than a thousand” opposite entities and agencies in and out of government. He called it an bid to tell Americans “what to consider and what to quarrel about,” and “a large deal.”

There Are Many Russia Investigations. What Are They All Doing?

But a response of Trump and his environment has been all along to expel doubt on a existence of a attacks, doubt on a Russian purpose and doubt on a motives of those who, like Comey, saw something sinful afoot. It was, pronounced a president, all an forgive for a unsatisfactory display by a Democrats during a list box, a line he has steady even into a spring.

Mueller is now commencement his review with a heavyweight staff and a suggestive mandate. Committees in Congress will also continue holding testimony. Much of all this will take place in private. Time will pass before we know a full border of their findings.

But this most is clear: something a Trump organisation competence have dealt with rapidly as recently as 6 months ago has grown to expel a shade on a White House and a prospects for a president’s agenda.

In that sense, a early stumbles of a new administration remind us of prior severe rags for predecessors. Other administrations also missed a possibility to cut their waste during a initial pointer of scandal, and they did so in partial since difficulty struck when they were during a incentive of limit energy and expectation.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan pronounced President Trump’s usually problem was “he’s new during this.” Trump, 70, has been called many things over a years, though frequency “naïve.” It is some-more expected a president-elect of late 2016 and early 2017 deliberate himself to be bulletproof.

Lessons to be learned

President Richard Nixon speaks with confidant Henry A. Kissinger in New York in Nov 1972.

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President Richard Nixon speaks with confidant Henry A. Kissinger in New York in Nov 1972.

AP

What we have seen in a past is that a Oval Office can fast turn a low-altitude chronicle of Olympus from that process decisions and appointments are handed down. This opinion takes reason during a initial transition into bureau and mostly reaches an round after re-election. (If that is true, it is a plea to suppose what a second Trump transition duration competence demeanour like.)

In a hubris of a moment, carrying vanquished a universe of electoral politics, a new or re-elected administration is entirely assured of a mandate, and equally full of itself. In such a moment, when that initial bad story comes down a pike, a initial incentive in a White House is to will it divided or exterminate it by any means necessary.

And in their solve to absolved themselves of a problem in this way, they make mistakes that reduction indisputable people would be reduction expected to make. To wit: denying a story or a problem even exists, relocating to stifle all justification to a discordant and to mislay all those who remonstrate (and, as a rule, to malign a media).

What might start as a comparatively teenager matter of singular and temporal effect morphs into a disaster. Underlings and intermediaries remove their jobs and infrequently go to jail. And once in a while, a drop even reaches a tip of a pyramid.

The peerless instance is, of course, Watergate, that eventually forced Nixon to resign. It began even as Nixon was unconditional to a 49-state landslide re-election in 1972. When a burglars were arrested during a domicile of a Democratic National Committee, a doubt for those who sent them became either to compensate hush money. Then a sources of a income had to be hidden, and so on.

Lies were piled on lies. It all led behind to a boss himself, and there incited out to be damning conversations recorded on tape. In a end, Nixon quiescent underneath hazard of impeachment.

President Ronald Reagan meets with a Tower Commission, that investigated a Iran-Contra scandal. The three-member commission, chaired by former Senator John Tower, a Republican, was cruelly vicious of a White House staff.

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President Ronald Reagan meets with a Tower Commission, that investigated a Iran-Contra scandal. The three-member commission, chaired by former Senator John Tower, a Republican, was cruelly vicious of a White House staff.

National Archives

After their possess re-elections, Reagan and Clinton both saw their second terms in bureau scarcely derailed by scandals that could have been smothered distant earlier with a bit of foreknowledge and a correct resolve.

In Reagan’s box it was an bid to giveaway hostages hold by a militant organisation in Lebanon by offered arms to their allies in Iran and afterwards regulating a deduction to financial anti-communist insurgents in Central America.

Known as a Iran-Contra scandal, it was rather legalistic and devolved to a narrow-minded conference on Capitol Hill that authorised for thespian defenses by some of a accused. The open was interested, some were exercised, though Reagan himself was well-insulated. No one went to jail though one associate was held in a backwash and found to have evaded some taxes.

President Bill Clinton get acclaim from Vice President Gore as initial lady Hillary Clinton looks on outward a Oval Office after a House of Representatives voted to cite a boss on Dec. 19, 1998.

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President Bill Clinton get acclaim from Vice President Gore as initial lady Hillary Clinton looks on outward a Oval Office after a House of Representatives voted to cite a boss on Dec. 19, 1998.

Doug Mills/AP

The open was also rather changeable about a categorical liaison of a Clinton years, his event with White House novice Monica Lewinsky and successive perjury in denying it.

The event came to light after Clinton’s surprisingly easy re-election. Clinton had been reluctant to settle a passionate harrassment lawsuit in a mid-1990s filed by an Arkansas lady named Paula Jones and that fit became a height on that Lewinsky was introduced to a nation.

The outcome was impeachment and a grinding, debilitating hearing in a Senate, that unsuccessful to outcome in even a infancy for conviction, let alone a compulsory two-thirds.

The apparition of invincibility blinded these presidents and their middle circles in a vicious moments when an infection was apropos a systemic hazard to life. In those moments, they reacted with audacity to what they saw as an annoyance or a daze with domestic implications. They done a glow in a garage into a five-alarm disaster that cracked careers, sent officials to jail and incited a arena of a presidency to a worse.

It is not a story anyone wants to see repeated.