Comey testimony raises questions over Trump acts amid Russian Federation probe
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 12, 2017,
Jun 12, 2017, 0:29
"Based on Comey's testimony, we know to a virtual certainty that the president is now under investigation for obstruction of justice".
Mueller was appointed to his post just two days after The New York Times reported Comey's memos. But he offered repeated hints that he does think so. Trump's demand that Attorney General Jeff Sessions leave the room before he made this February 14 request was, "to me as an investigator", a "very significant fact", Comey said.
"It's a fair judgment, it's my judgment, that I was sacked because of the Russian Federation investigation". Putting aside the fact that Trump's approval rating among Republicans would have to erode considerably before Republicans would even dream of the I-word, what exactly did Trump obstruct here? "That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me", he said. Anyone involved in the firing of Comey - which Trump admitted in an NBC News interview was motivated, at least in part, by the Russian Federation investigation.
Comey never deviated from his trademark expression of sober serenity.
In his May 11 NBC interview, Trump said, "The FBI has been in turmoil". Kasowitz describes the leak in the language of an indictment: "Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president".
"In my experience of prosecuting cases, when a robber held a gun to somebody's head and said, "I hope you will give me your wallet, ' the word 'hope" was not the most operative word at that moment", said Harris, among those being mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.
But Comey indicated for the first time that the president's conduct fell under the scope of the broader counterintelligence investigation.
He also said since he delivered his strong rebuke to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members, money "is starting to pour in" to NATO's coffers, presumably from members behind on their dues. Congressional Republicans have taken, essentially, a "see no evil" position on actions that in any other circumstance they would view as illegal. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, along with Sessions, wrote memos supporting the firing, and other members of Trump's inner circle likely weighed in. After Comey's testimony under oath, Trump's private lawyer flatly denied that the president asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, or to pledge loyalty. He was asked by Senator Angus King, an independent, whether he took the president's references to the Flynn probe in the Oval Office as a directive to drop the matter.
Republicans on the committee did not challenge the accuracy of Comey's testimony.
Yet, Trump still pursued Comey, calling him on the phone. "I hope you can let this go", Trump said, according to Comey's memo. He gloats about Comey's verification that the president was not the target of an FBI counterintelligence investigation. Democrats agreed with his assessment; California Sen. Trump did not answer directly, saying only, "I'll tell you about that maybe sometime soon".
Trump has previously called Comey a "showboat" and a "grandstander" and said he was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing" in dismissing him.
"I need loyalty, I expect loyalty", Trump told Comey at a January 27 dinner, according to Comey.
Comey suggested that some of Trump's close associates are facing serious scrutiny. He said it was an effort to further the investigation.
Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FBI was investigating Moscow's role in the election, including possible collusion with Trump's campaign.
Trump avoided directly responding to the explosive accusations, defiantly telling supporters at a religious event in the capital: "We are going to fight and win". It also raised questions about the motivations behind Comey's dismissal.
Comey faced little real hostility from the senators, and the hearing's pace slowed under repetitive questioning. That was the case when Comey talked about Trump's discussion with him about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
"When it comes from the president, I took it as a direction".
Trump has disputed Comey's account and implied on Twitter that there may be taped recordings of their encounters. Did the Federal Bureau of Investigation director warn Trump that his comment was inappropriate and possibly illegal? No.