By the time the gavel called the hearing with former FBI Director James Comey to order it was obvious that his testimony was going to have a Rashomon quality with different people having a different interpretation of events.  For me, the crux of the spectacle was in Senator Marco Rubio’s questioning of Comey.

Partial Transcript (I’m including the full transcript at the bottom of the post):

RUBIO: But going back, the three requests were; number one, be loyal; number two, let the Mike Flynn thing go, he’s a good guy, he’s been treated unfairly; and, number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in Congress already know, what you already know, what you’ve told me three times — that I’m not under — personally under investigation?

COMEY: Those are the three things he asked. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: You know, this investigation is full of leaks, left and right. I mean, we’ve learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we do from our open hearings, for sure.

You ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans in the leadership of Congress knew that, and have known that for weeks?

If Rubio wanted to be even more pointed, it would have been fair to ask why, of all the conversations between Comey and Trump, the only information Comey never leaked was that Trump was not under investigation. That wouldn’t even have triggered the whole “duty to correct” smokescreen that Comey threw up yesterday.

It is hard to look at this exchange and come away with any conclusion that does not acknowledge that, regardless of any other motives Comey had in the leaks, one of the reasons for the leak was to damage Trump. The fact that the questions that cut to the core of Comey’s motivation came from someone who is no friend or ally of Trump makes them more powerful.

Because of that, I disagree with a lot of the who-won-who-lost columns on yesterday’s hearing. Virtually across the board, they list Comey as a “winner’ but I think, in the long run, history will judge him exceedingly harshly and he will wear the mantel of “loser” for a long, long time.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

RUBIO: Now, on a number of occasions here, you bring up — let’s talk (ph) now about the general Russia investigation, OK? In page 6 of your testimony, you say — the first thing you say is, he asked what we could do to, quote/unquote, “lift the cloud,” the general Russia investigation.

And you responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to having done the work well. And he agreed. He reemphasized the problems it was causing him, but he agreed.

So, in essence, the president agreed with your statement that it would be great if we could have an investigation, all the facts came out and we found nothing. So he agreed that that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda. Is that an accurate assessment of.

COMEY: Yes, sir. He actually went farther than that. He — he said, “And if some of my satellites did something wrong, it’d be good to find that out.”

RUBIO: Well, that’s the second part, and that is the satellites. He said, “If (ph) one of my satellites” — I imagine, by that, he meant some of the other people surrounding his campaign — “did something wrong, it would be great to know that, as well”?

COMEY: Yes, sir. That’s what he said.

RUBIO: So are those the other — are those the only two instances in which that sort of back-and-forth happened, where the president was basically saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s OK, do the Russia investigation. I hope it all comes out. I have nothing to do with anything Russia. It’d be great if it all came out, if people around me were doing things that were wrong.

COMEY: Yes. As I — I recorded it accurately there. That was the sentiment he was expressing. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: So what it basically comes down to is the president has asked three things of you. He asked for your loyalty, and you said you would be loyally honest.

COMEY: Honestly loyal.

RUBIO: Honestly loyal. The — the — he asked you, on one occasion, to let the Mike Flynn thing go because he was a good guy — but you’re aware that he said the exact same thing in the press the next day. “He’s a good guy,” “He’s been treated unfairly,” et cetera, et cetera. So I imagine your FBI agents read that.

COMEY: I’m sure they did.

RUBIO: Your — the president’s wishes were known to them, certainly, by the next day, when he had a press conference with the prime minister.RUBIO: But going back, the three requests were; number one, be loyal; number two, let the Mike Flynn thing go, he’s a good guy, he’s been treated unfairly; and, number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in Congress already know, what you already know, what you’ve told me three times — that I’m not under — personally under investigation?

COMEY: Those are the three things he asked. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: You know, this investigation is full of leaks, left and right. I mean, we’ve learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we do from our open hearings, for sure.

You ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans in the leadership of Congress knew that, and have known that for weeks?

COMEY: I don’t know. I find matters that are briefed to the Gang of Eight are pretty tightly held, in my experience.

RUBIO: Finally, who are those senior leaders at the FBI that you shared these conversations with?

COMEY: As I said in response to Senator Feinstein’s question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, the deputy director’s chief counsel, and then, more often than not, the number three person at the FBI, who is the associate deputy director, and then, quite often, the head of the national security branch.