FBI Director James B. Comey began his testimony at Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearing by saying that he couldn't discuss the details of the ongoing Russia investigation. And he emphasized — repeatedly — that none of us should overanalyze anything on which he declined to comment.
“Please don't draw any conclusions from the fact that I may not be able to comment on certain topics,” Comey said.
He added: “I know speculating is part of human nature, but it really isn't fair to draw conclusions simply because I say that I can't comment.”
Comey's boss, President Trump, did not heed this plea.
FBI Director Comey refuses to deny he briefed President Obama on calls made by Michael Flynn to Russia. pic.twitter.com/cUZ5KgBSYP
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
Here's the exchange that was isolated by Trump's Twitter account.
GOWDY: Did you brief President Obama on — I'll just ask you: Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?
COMEY: I'm not going to get into either that particular case, that matter, or any conversations I had with the president. So I can't answer that.
This was a standard answer for Comey throughout the hearing, and he stuck like glue to his promise not to comment on the ongoing investigation.
“Mr. Schiff, I'm worried we're going to a place I don't want to go, which is commenting on any particular person,” he said when asked by Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “And so I — I don't think I should comment.”
“That's not something I can comment on,” he said when asked how Trump adviser Roger Stone appeared to have advance knowledge of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails being leaked.
It got to the point where members acknowledged Comey wasn't going to be able to address questions they were about to ask. Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.) asked Comey four straight questions that elicited no-comments before yielding her time.
Basically, there were plenty of no-comments for just about anyone to read anything they wanted into Comey's testimony Monday. Any video editor/political spinner could make Comey look evasive on a given issue.
So the nation's political spinner-in-chief did. Even though Comey expressly told him not to.