A leading Democrat in the House and frequent critic of President Donald Trump made an embarrassing faux pas during CNN’s Erin Burnett “OutFront” show on Wednesday night.
Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, showed a lack of knowledge about the presidency, the executive branch, and the FBI’s position within the federal government.
Speier was eager to talk about six pages of prepared opening testimony that former FBI Director James Comey released to the media the day before his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Comey released the document to the media and the Senate on Wednesday. The testimony backs up Trump several times: Comey told Trump he was not under investigation without being asked, despite an earlier report by Jake Tapper and Gloria Borger of CNN.
“There’s three separate branches of government. And certainly, me as a member of Congress would never attempt to influence a court proceeding or judge.”
But Comey’s remark that Trump wanted to remove a “cloud” over the White House is being seized on by liberals and Democrats eager to dubiously claim that Trump committed obstruction of justice by speaking to Comey about the investigation into Russian hacking.
Even Speier didn’t go that far.
“I think it’s very close to obstruction of justice,” said Speier. “I think we need more evidence.”
But it was during an opportunity for Speier to wax indignant about Trump talking to Comey that the interview took a wrong turn. Burnett asked if maybe Trump thought it was OK to meet one-on-one with Comey because the then-FBI director sought an initial meeting.
“Well, that’s part of the problem,” said Speier. “Everyone who has had any engagement with the government knows that there’s three separate branches of government. And certainly, me as a member of Congress would never attempt to influence a court proceeding or judge.”
Except Comey wasn’t a judge or a court. Comey was FBI director and answered to the attorney general within the Justice Department.
The Justice Department is part of the executive branch, which Trump heads as president.
As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy has pointed out many times, Trump is the boss of the Justice Department, the attorney general, and the FBI. He can fire the FBI director and even end a criminal investigation.
In their rush to get Trump, media and politicians are blurring facts, and fake civics lessons are being bandied about. Flinging them eagerly is Speier, and she has a willing platform at CNN.