Last Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, regarding the conversation that he had had, in a sudden dinner meeting, with Donald J. Trump, on April 27. Mr. Trump eventually fired Comey on May 9. Director Comey’s assertion was that Trump had invited him to the unplanned, private dinner in order to request that he drop the FBI investigation about Michael Flynn, and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump Transition Team.
Much of the questioning from Trump supporters, on the Committee, seemed to focus on whether Mr. Trump had specifically asked Director Comey to drop the investigation. As Comey responded, Trump did not! It appears, however, according to Comey, that Donald Trump suggested as much, when he inserted the term “Loyalty,” and that he “expects it!”
This is what behavioral psychologist refer to as “Framing”. For instance, questions can be worded in such a way—either purposely or unintentionally—that might bias the response. Conversations can similarly provide implicit understandings! Consider also, that when a parent, a school teacher, or any person in authority wants something done, they are generally not expected to explain their request in detail. Rather, they just merely suggest their preferred outcome—explicitly or implicitly. And that’s what Trump had done!
Former Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who had been a key National Security Advisor to Trump, even before the Election, had also filled that informal role, both within the Trump Transition Team and was appointed to it, after Trump’s Innauguration. Flynn, however, had had 19 reported separate contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, a reputed spot master, and possibly with other Russians in attendance. Additionally, other members of Trump’s Transition Team had reportedly also made contact with the Russians, as well.
So, what else might the unexpected one-on-one dinner invitation, alone with Donald Trump, have meant, especially with the interjection of wanting and expecting Loyalty? Could there have been any other implication than that Director Comey’s job was on the line? Also, isn’t it the job of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and its Director, to detect and pursue Criminal Intent?
There is also one other step that Donald Trump apparently failed to consider. If James Comey had, in fact succumbed to his implicit request, how might the Director have proceeded? Certainly, there were some of the FBI’s most senior agents working on the Flynn/Trump/Russia Investigation. What was James Comey supposed to do, in order to comply with Donald Trump’s “suggestion”: tell them that it has been cancelled?
Wouldn’t that have just shifted James Comey over, from being one of the Investigators, to being one of the Investigated?