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The Week That Was: Comey Testifies, Harvard Draws The Line, Reality Winner Leaks And More

The former FBI director took the stand, an NSA contractor leaked details of Russia's activity in the U.S. election and Harvard said no to offensive memes. All that and more from Tom Keane's weekly news roundup. Pictured: Former FBI director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The former FBI director took the stand, an NSA contractor leaked details of Russia's activity in the U.S. election and Harvard said no to offensive memes. All that and more from Tom Keane's weekly news roundup. Pictured: Former FBI director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Editor's Note: Every Friday, Tom Keane offers up assorted observations, conundra and miscellanea about the week that was. Here's his round-up for the week ending June 9, 2017.


It was the week when the nation breathlessly awaited bombshell testimony from former FBI director James Comey, only to be greeted with something more akin to a firecracker — loud, yes; damaging, perhaps; fatal, no.

No smoking guns. Comey may someday have a defamation suit against Donald Trump —  the president told “lies, plain and simple” about why the FBI director was fired — but aside from that, Trump escaped the hearings pretty easily. Three takeaways. First, it turns out Trump was telling the truth when he said Comey had assured him he wasn’t personally under investigation. Second, like every politician the world over, Trump expects loyalty — he was just boneheaded enough to say it out loud (although, not surprisingly, his lawyer denies even that). And finally, Trump’s request that Comey just “let this go” when it comes to the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may be problematic but it doesn't appear to have been obstruction of justice. Dreams of impeachment may be just that.

Har-har-harvard. Offensive and bad jokes by 10 incoming freshmen got Harvard so riled up it pulled their acceptance letters. Sides quickly formed. Some decried a university supposedly dedicated to the free exchange of ideas for drawing lines — and so harshly — about what ideas it in fact would tolerate. Others said the kids deserved it. Words indicate character and, let’s face it, the 10 came across as creeps, not the kind of people you’d want representing the World’s Greatest University.

People lounging around Harvard Yard. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)
People lounging around Harvard Yard. (Joe Difazio for WBUR)

I love winners — well, except this one. A National Security Agency contractor named Reality Winner leaked a confidential document on Russian election interference and was promptly arrested. One does wonder whether Winner’s fate was sealed at birth. Reality Winner. Seriously? Naming your kid as you would a TV show does not a good future bode. Moreover, even while working on top secret stuff, Winner was apparently posting all over social media about her anti-Trump and anti-government predilections. You do have to think that if Harvard had been in charge (see above) the leaks might never have occurred.

The man at war with himself. The travel ban saga kicked off in January and has played out like a Netflix series. This week’s episode took a darkly comic turn, as the president sent out a series of tweets decrying his own Justice Department for watering down his executive order — a weakened order that Trump himself had signed. Trump then trashed the political correctness of his own lawyers desperately trying to rationalize away candidate Trump’s anti-Muslim comments, undermining his case in the process. Unlike Netflix, though, there’s no binge watching — we’ll have to wait weeks for the next chapter: The Supreme Court Decides.

Sibling rivalry. Underscoring the “specialness” of the special relationship between the United States and Great Britain, the president reacted to the terror attack on London Bridge by mocking the mayor of London, blaming the Brits for bringing it on themselves and using the deaths and injuries to domestic political advantage. That’s the way it is with families. With strangers and friends, we’d express sympathy and ask if there’s anything we can do. But those closest to us, we use any excuse to tear them down. That's how it works... right?

London Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, left, and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, participate in a media conference at London Bridge in London, Monday, June 5, 2017. (Alastair Grant/AP)
London Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, left, and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, participate in a media conference at London Bridge in London, Monday, June 5, 2017. (Alastair Grant/AP)

Big bucks for ears. Mass. Eye and Ear announced this week it had received a $20 million grant to conduct research into hearing loss. Twenty-million grunts? No, 20 million dollars. Why are they grunting? Into hearing loss! Eating floss? No, it’s…

Dr. Huxtable on the stand. The trial of Bill Cosby for sexual assault kicked off Monday with America’s one-time favorite dad entering the courtroom with famous actresses in tow. Their presence makes a statement, of course, but not as powerful a statement made by Cosby’s wife: She was absent.

You love us! You really love us! And finally, a survey by Deutsche Bank says Boston is the eighth best city on the planet -- and the best in America — in terms of quality of life. Eight factors figured into their decision, including commuter traffic and climate. Really? Have the Germans driven the central artery at rush hour? Did they happen to visit during the winter of 2015 or, heck, any time this spring? And considering Deutsche Bank over the last year has been fined billions of dollars for money laundering, I’d be careful about too enthusiastically patting ourselves on the back.

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Tom Keane Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Tom Keane is a Boston-based writer.

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