Opinion

A troubled transcript of the awkward Mr. Comey

I watched the James Comey hearings completely sober so that you did not have to, and here is some of what was said:

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.: Hello, Mr. Comey. I am excited for you to testify today, but I am more excited for your real, hard-core testimony behind closed doors, of which this is only a preview. First off, I would like to say that I read your prepared statement. It had a lot of, uh, texture. You seem to be a very awkward man.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.: Before we start, just to be clear, this is not a witch hunt. If it were a witch hunt, I would have a big white wig, and we would have also called your demon familiar to the stand. Now, take it away.

Comey: Boy golly gosh, thank you! I am deeply troubled. I am quite troubled all the time. I knew I could be fired, but I was confused and concerned by the way it happened. Then the reasons shifted, and I was troubled.

The president kept telling me that I was doing a good job and that everyone loved me, which did not trouble me, but then when he fired me he said it was the Hillary Clinton thing, and at that, I was very troubled.

Then I was told that the FBI workforce was in disarray and that the administration had lost confidence in my leadership. And that was a lie! The FBI has never been in disarray a day in its life. It is the only beautiful thing in this broken world. I just - I miss it so much.

Burr: Was the president trying to obstruct justice when he said that thing to you about seeing your way clear to letting Michael Flynn go?

Comey: I don’t think it’s for me to say, but I found it quite disturbing and concerning. Then again, I find most things disturbing or concerning, including skinny ties, the word “covfefe” and when someone stands behind you when you’re trying to type.

Warner: So what’s this about creating a patronage relationship? Did he mistake you for an Italian artist of the 15th century?

Comey: Well, you saw that uncomfortable interaction we had where he held me close in the blue room and whispered, and what he whispered was, “I look forward to working with you.” And then I sort of got the vibe at dinner that he was expecting more from me than I was willing to give him.

Warner: And this was February 14.

Comey: Yes.

Warner: You know that’s a special day.

Comey: I have been made aware of that fact.

Warner: And he didn’t ask about any of the tens of thousands of other ongoing investigations?

Comey: No, but to be fair, they did not have his name anywhere near them, and you know how he loves to see his name.

Senator James Risch, R-Idaho: Have you considered that when Trump said he hoped you would stay on, he just genuinely meant that he hoped you would stay on?

Comey: What?

Risch: Is hope a crime?

Comey: I’m sorry.

Risch: You know who used to hope a lot? Barack Hussein Obama.

Comey: I’m not really sure if I’m-

Risch: Donald Trump is full of hope. He is a simple man who just wants the best for people. Wouldn’t you agree?

Comey: Uh . . .

Risch: No further questions your honor, the defense rests!

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: Why do you think you were fired?

Comey: Definitely not because I was bad at my job. I was great at my job.

Feinstein: We can agree that it is apparent from your testimony that you are an incredibly awkward man.

Comey: Thank you, I think.

Feinstein: What about those phone calls?

Comey: He was just really upset about his personal cloud, and he wanted me to tell people he was not personally under investigation. Listen, by golly, nobody likes to have a little cloud over their head. That is for cartoon characters, not real people.

Feinstein: You said you’d see what you could do. What did that mean?

Comey: It meant “no,” but it seemed like a politer thing to say.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: So when he said let it go, did it not occur to you that he could just have been referencing a popular song from Disney’s “Frozen”?

Comey: No.

Rubio: Why didn’t you say, “This is inappropriate” and put a stop to it, if it made you so uncomfortable?

Comey: Uh . . .

Rubio: Maybe it was because it didn’t make you uncomfortable, deep down.

Comey: No, I was definitely uncomfortable. I am always uncomfortable, at all times.

Rubio: Why did you allow yourself to be alone in the room with him if you knew that was what he wanted? You knew it would be your word against his. Why didn’t you report it to your boss? Why did you wear that elegant blue suit that looked like a curtain? You know that curtains are mean to be pulled aside.

Comey: I was stunned. I am not Captain Courageous. Captain Courageous is a Kipling hero, whereas I am just an ordinary man who says “Lordy” a lot. I decided I could safely agree that Flynn was a good guy, so I did that. It was just all very weird.

Rubio: So why didn’t you lift the cloud?

Comey: Well, he also said he wanted to be sure his satellites hadn’t done anything wrong, and at that point the metaphor was so mixed that I was concerned, confused and agog. Lordy.

Rubio: You said you’d be loyally honest.

Comey: Honestly loyal.

Rubio: That is a weird thing to say to a human being.

Comey: Believe me, I am quite aware of what an awkward and strange thing that was to say.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.: Did Vice President Pence know anything at any time about anything?

Comey: Who can say?

Wyden: Who do you think fired you? Was Jeff Sessions behaving oddly?

Comey: No more than usual.

Sen. James Lankford , R-Okla.: What were you wearing?

Comey: Just a suit, I think.

Lankford: Very interesting. Very. Interesting.

Comey: I feel uncomfortable.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.: Let us relive that night one more time. It is possible that you will spend the rest of your life reliving the events of that one night. Tell us again everything that happened, in full awareness that you were probably at fault. Why didn’t you tell the media directly?

Comey: Because I hate the media! They are like evil seagulls. I did not tell them anything because I was about to go on vacation with my wife. My greatest regret in life is that I did not spend 100 percent of my time as FBI director on vacation with my wife.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas: Here’s a great question: Let me take you back to the Clinton email investigation.

Comey: Yes, certainly, absolutely, by golly, this seems like a great use of our time. Let’s discuss it at length!

Cornyn: And now let me remind you that the words “honest loyalty” came out of your mouth at one point.

Comey: I am constantly, cringingly aware of this fact.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: I think the real concern here is, why did the Russians collude with the Clinton campaign, wouldn’t you say, general?

Comey: I’m sorry, what?

McCain: Why didn’t Clinton campaign in Russia?

Comey: Usually you are much more “on” than this.

Burr: Oops, looks like we are out of time! See you in the secret room, gents, where we will really get to the bottom of this and tell no one!

Alexandra Petri blogs for The Washington Post. For her full “transcript” from the hearing, go online to washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost.

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