Cautious Comey expected in US hearing on Trump-Russia probes

After James Comey's meeting with Donald Trump in February, in which Trump asked him to shut down the Russian Federation investigation, Comey told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he didn't want to be left alone with Trump ever again.

Trump hosted the Senate and House Republican leadership at the White House to discuss a range of issues, from tax reform to health care.

Donald Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats whether he could block the FBI's probe into former nat sec adviser Michael Flynn, The Washington Post reported Tuesday night.

Coats reportedly opted not to become involved because he believed it would be inappropriate, the report said, citing sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The spot will air on national television during the hearing, and on digital platforms before then.

Comey did not inform Sessions that Trump asked him to quash the Flynn probe, however, according to the Times report.

If Comey confirms the account, senators will likely ask him why he never said anything to them, or the Judiciary Committees that have oversight over the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But constitutional law experts tell Newsweek the exhaustive political process to remove the president could only begin when, and if, there's enough evidence to suggest Trump committed "treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors".

He could talk about why he was uncomfortable with Trump in the first place, but there's nothing illegal or untoward about making government officials uncomfortable.

Eric Beach, head of Great America Alliance, said no one from the White House asked his group to do the ad. Current and former law enforcement officials say Comey kept his interactions with Trump a secret in part because he was not sure whom at the Justice Department he could trust.

In Thursday's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey is expected to describe those conversations in detail, although he will be careful not to discuss classified information, which is likely to prevent him from providing new details about the Russian Federation probe, associates said.

That bombshell announcement made clear to everyone, including the president who later fired him, that the investigation was very real.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president's power to invoke executive privilege is "well-established".

"Senator Feinstein and I heard nothing that contradicted the President's statement", Grassley said at the meeting. "We don't want to continue to have to rely on press reports or an anonymous source [regarding information Comey possesses]".

The revelation comes two days before Comey is due to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his interactions with Trump.

Top Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have specifically urged members to not raise the specter of impeachment, arguing that they need to allow investigations already underway to uncover more details about the president and his team's actions.

President Donald Trump, left, greets House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., before the start of a meeting with House and Senate Leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 6, 2017.

  • Larry Hoffman