"Shields and Brooks on James Comey hearing takeaways" PBS NewsHour 6/9/2017
SUMMARY: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour): And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.
So, let's continue the conversation about James Comey.
David, we heard today what the President thinks of it. He said he thought the former FBI director vindicated him, but he also was telling lies. What did you think?
DAVID BROOKS, The New York Times: I thought Trump actually had some points.
I think one of the things we heard on the criminal side, it wasn't a bad, not a terrible day for Donald Trump. James Comey seemed to suggest that there was no — maybe — cast some doubt at least the idea there was a lot of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign or even a lot of conversations.
I think what Trump did to James Comey, clearing the room and asking him to lay off on Flynn, was scandalous, I think terrible, but probably not something that would rise to the level of impeachment in any normal Presidency.
So, to me, on the criminal front, not a disastrous testimony for Donald Trump. On the cultural front, on the moral front, kind of disastrous. The thought that he [Trump] lied is pretty strong. We do know, because of what Comey said yesterday, there's going to be a lot more investigations.
And every time there's some sort of independent or special investigation into the White House, it can swallow a White House up not only for months, but for years. The Whitewater investigation went on for seven years.
And so I think what's going to happen is, you are going to have a continued administration that's dysfunctional, that is under investigation, that is distrustful, and a President who's obsessed, not with policy, not with anything constructive, but with this sort of warfare.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What did you make of James Comey and what he had to say?
MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist: I thought James Comey was believable.
I thought he was compelling, in large part because, Judy, he admitted his flaws. He did not present himself as Galahad or some profile in courage. He acknowledged the fact that the pressure of being one-on-one with the President just in the White House, that he had not said to the President it was inappropriate. He said he hadn't been strong enough.
But what was most revealing to me of all the hearings, Republicans — and I do want the say one word to the Senators. I mean, they didn't do soliloquies. They didn't do seven-minute statements followed by a question, do you agree? I thought — and they didn't show rank partisanship, I felt, and that there was a seriousness led by Chairman Burr and Co-Chair Warner.
But what impressed me most of all was that, while Republican Senators were willing to come to the defense of the President, a point David made, that there wasn't obstruction of justice on his part or whatever, none of them challenged Director Comey's direct statements the President lied and that he was a liar, and that is why he had to memorialize each meeting with the President, each conversation with the President, because he feared that the President would lie.
And nobody said, 'no, wait a minute, this is George Washington.' This is a man [Trump], a total — he does have a reputation for exaggeration, hyping, and some would say not a totally consistent relationship with the truth and reality.
And I think that's a real problem for him [Trump]. The fact he wasn't under investigation is significant, but, ironically, nobody asked him, and Director Comey didn't volunteer, whether, as a consequence of what happened in his meetings at the White House, that he may now have opened himself up to some investigation, he, the President.