The Butler County Connection to the Comey Testimony: CNN comes to town to put Trump supporters on the spot–but come up empty

I almost felt sorry for them, the team at CNN who came to Butler County, Ohio to gloat over the Comey testimony ended their day rattled to their basic foundations.  If there is a place in the United States harder core Trump—I can’t think of where that might be except out in the fringes of the cityscapes to the east of Ohio and West Virginia.  Butler County is special because it’s a strong hold of Republicanism.  It’s the home town of John Boehner—had been a huge supporter of John Kasich for governor and eventual presidential candidate.  But most recently it was responsible for helping Trump stamp out a 9 to 10 point edge over Hillary Clinton during the last election.  Given that CNN had spent so much political capital on a smoking gun emerging during the Comey testimony they invited a lot of those Trump supporters down to Rick’s Tavern in Fairfield to witness the public execution which was later filtered out on the Anderson Cooper show later the same day. Their assertion at CNN was that there was smoke and that Trump was guilty of something.  But all that smoke ended up being where smoke grenades thrown by them and others in the media to make it look like there was some fire.  Even though I’m not big fans of the people at CNN, it was embarrassing to see them up close when they came to realize it on live television.

Comey wasn’t fired to hide an investigation into Russian hacking.  He was fired because he went on just a few days prior to give senate testimony and admitted he was a befuddled, insecure person who didn’t know how to proceed and he had lost the confidence of the FBI as an institution due to his show boating during the Hillary Clinton events of 2016.  Here was a guy whose claim to fame was putting Martha Stewart in jail, who made himself into a national sensation for trying to withdraw a wire tapping order while John Ashcroft was in the hospital but was beat to the punch by the Bush White House.  Comey had a history of working against the White House when Obama nominated him to lead the FBI four years ago and obviously thereafter the same standard of prosecution did not apply.  If you put Martha Stewart and Hillary Clinton side by side, case by case-Hillary Clinton should have had the death penalty thrown at her compared to Stewart.  Here was a woman in Clinton who really committed crimes at the highest level, shared classified secrets and destroyed evidence—and she was running for president.  Comey fumbled the case and sought to cover up his tracks with a lot of legal talk which nobody understood to hide his incompetence.  And he got caught. He let the Democrats nominate a criminal for the White House and when they lost the election, it has all but destroyed their party.  So Trump’s loyalty comment was in that line of thought.

The entire day all CNN wanted to do was point to the loyalty question as if it indicated guilt over Russian collusion—and that this story was bigger than Watergate.  Only there was no collusion.  Trump isn’t the kind of guy to share the spotlight with anyone—especially Russia, and as a business executive, he wants his own people to be around him—not some Obama holdover in the FBI.  But Trump knew he had to give the guy a chance—because it would look bad to come into office and fire all of Obama’s people.  That left Trump to do what a lot of head hunters who slip into executive slots as head of corporations do—you watch and listen to who does what.  Then you replace the weak links with your own people as you learn the ropes.  Comey admitted to the senate that he made judgment errors when he indicated he was “mildly nauseous” that he might have swayed the 2016 Election.  After that comment from my own vantage point I knew he had lost the hard line officers at the FBI as they were surely eye rolling the Comey statements and if I had to guess, that was the moment Trump decided to fire the FBI director and make him a “former.”

I don’t think Comey is a villain in this case—he was just over his head.  The character he made himself out to be—an Eliot Ness type of FBI agent—couldn’t hold up when the media no longer liked him.  He was fine so long as the people he was going after were the Bush White House and Martha Stewart—but when the villain was Hillary Clinton whom the entire Washington D.C. establishment supported—he found him stuck between a rock and a hard place—and he didn’t handle the pressure well.  When he shouldn’t have, he went on the air and gave extensive press conferences and spoke too freely which exacerbated the situation beyond redemption essentially forcing Trump to fire him.

Comey’s comments about feeling anxious to be alone with Trump are classic emotions when a guilty incompetent person is left defensively with a superior boss.  When other people are in the room it takes the edge off—but when you know you are guilty of not doing a very good job and you are alone with someone who can see through you—of course it would make a person like Comey nervous.  CNN wanted to make that story into one where Comey thought Trump was corrupt and the purity of his nature wouldn’t allow him to deal with the president one on one.  That is pure fantasy—in reality, Comey knew he was guilty of screwing up the Clinton case and he hoped to stay out of trouble long enough to keep his 10 year appointment by Obama.  He knew that Trump would soon learn that Comey wasn’t the best man for the job, so he had no desire to spend time alone with the president. That caused Comey to do  two more stupid things; give a public speech about how everyone was stuck with Comey for another 6 years hoping to put pressure on Trump to keep the FBI director on for fear of political backlash.  Then he gave his senate testimony mentioned above where he gave a number of statements that were just embarrassing.  Trump did the right thing and fired Comey—then he stood by his decision without a lot of politicking.  He simply said that Comey was a showboat—which was true, and that he hadn’t done a very good job.  End of story.

It’s one thing to watch these stories from afar, but to see CNN up close trying to wring out a nothing story was absolutely fascinating.  But they came to my town, to my community to catch Trump supporters live on the air with what they hoped would be administration ending testimony—and they didn’t come close to getting it.  I didn’t feel sorry for them because they were after all part of the insurgency against traditional America.  But they were people, and however wrong they were philosophically, they were still human beings suffering under a false premise that had not carried the day.  They were part of a losing, and declining effort in America and they knew it.  They took one last shot in the dark hoping to score a hit in Trump Country, and all they got were a bunch of supporters like me and several others who defended Trump valiantly.  And it wasn’t hard.  The truth has a way of showing its own majestic presence, and the CNN people were trying to make something out of nothing.  The world is literally on a precipice, given the elections in England today, the terrorist attacks in Europe, the events of the Middle East—the strange chess game in the east—the world is changing dramatically.  But for CNN, the pivot point was with the Comey story and they went all in on it—and they came up with nothing.  And they chose to do it in Butler County, Ohio—which was a mistake for them.  I enjoyed being a part of it, and I enjoyed watching them lose. But as people I know it was painful.  However in war—who cares.  Move on and prosper.

Rich Hoffman

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