The stunning and dramatic testimony of James Comey has a lot of people asking the easy questions. I understand why – the hard questions are very unpleasant.
First, the idea that the Acting Attorney General of the United States had to literally rush with lights and siren and then run to the hospital room of an ailing John Ashcroft – to prevent the White House Chief of Staff and White House Counsel from getting Ashcroft to authorize, in his confusion, a program he objected to – is simply horrifying. Comey actually called FBI Chief Mueller who instructed the security detail to ensure Comey would not be removed from the room – effectively preventing Card and Gonzales from being alone with Ashcroft. It’s the stuff of a Clancy novel, and enough to stop one’s heart, at least one who cares about our constitutional principles. Which gets me to the crux of the matter.
The problem is not, as some are suggesting, the question of whether Gonzales lied under oath. It’s important, yes, but the heart of the matter is a bit more grave.
This warrantless domestic surveillance was, in the opinion of the Justice Department, illegal. So, not only did the President personally intervene and orchestrate the frightening hospital-bed episode – but the President ignored Justice’s findings and continued with the program.
So – the President of the United States, knowingly and in direct opposition to his own Department of Justice, ordered illegal, warrantless domestic surveillance. This is a grave violation of the Constitution and a serious crime that points a knife at the heart of our American principles of governance. It is a flagrant violation of his Presidential Oath, perhaps the most serious by a modern Presidency. Any Congress with half a testicle would be drafting Articles of Impeachment based on this alone. But that, sadly, is not this Congress.
Also see this report from MSNBC’s David Shuster.