Comey and the value of keeping a record

I’ll admit it: I spent the entire day watching the drama on TV. I enjoyed it, particularly because it was a sort of trial, in which a powerful witness was directed and crossed by lawyers, some of whom were very, very good. And some of whom weren’t, but never mind that.

So I got a kick out of flexing my trial-watching muscles, to see if I was still able to pick up strategies in the questioning.

Then I went into Twitter, and the New York Times and all the comments in the New York Times and, and, and…

A number of comments anxiously expressed the he-said/he-said concern about Comey’s testimony versus Trump’s claims. One said something like, “But it’s Comey’s word against Trump’s.”

Not really. Because Comey made those contemporaneous notes and gathered his immediate staff to discuss what had happened.

Here’s how making notes works: you’re involved in a contentious relationship which you think might lead to being fired, or might put you in a bad situation. You make detailed notes of every encounter with the other person–just as Comey did.

Because, when the storm hits, your position is not you-said/other-guy-said, unless the other guy also made contradictory contemporaneous notes–which is unlikely if he, like Trump, is an inveterate liar, or just doesn’t bother writing.

Those notes which support what you say happened become a sort of ancilliary witness to events.

So it isn’t you said and the other guy says you’re lying. It is: you said and here’s your documentary witness versus the other guy’s lies.

In Comey’s case, he has also identified by title all the people with whom he shared his experience and his notes, and all of those people can be called (or subpoenaed) to testify to support his testimony.

It was a scrupulous example of how to deal with liars who can hurt you. Write it all down.

This entry was posted in B. Uh-Oh: Suspecting you might have to sue, D. Making and keeping a record, Law, suits and order and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.