Comey's testimony gives building blocks for obstruction case

Pauline Gross
June 9, 2017

Former FBI director James Comey listens to the committee chairman at the beginning of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington.

Comey admitted at a Senate hearing Thursday that Trump's tweet prompted him to ask his close friend, identified as Richman later in the day by reporters, to leak the contents of one of the memos Comey had written after a conversation he had with the president. He noted that that Mr Trump had offered a separate explanation in a subsequent television interview and in media reports of a conversation with the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office, namely that he fired the FBI chief because of the Russia election-meddling investigation. He memorialized his approach to accuracy in his 1987 book "The Art of the Deal", writing: "People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular". He demurred when asked whether he thought Trump was obstructing justice, saying that matter should be left to the newly appointed special counsel, Robert Mueller, in whom he expressed confidence.

Comey said there was no doubt, in his mind, about the Russian government's covert attempt to interfere in last year's presidential election.

Trump fired back following Comey's testimony.

Russian Federation has denied such interference. More than four decades ago, President Richard Nixon wasn't a subject of a criminal investigation in the early stages of the one that eventually forced him from office. Those were "lies plain and simple", thundered Mr Comey.

"I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document", Comey said about his January 6 meeting with Donald Trump. "I took it as, 'This is what he wants me to do.' I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it", Comey said in an exchange with Idaho Republican Sen. It was only after Trump tweeted about the possibility the meeting was taped that Comey turned his memos over to a professor at Columbia Law School.

"I don't know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate", he said.

"If the president knew of such an investigation and did what he did, then at least we're in the territory of an obstruction of justice proceeding", Tushnet said. However, he said former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey's statement Thursday that Trump had said he hoped Comey could "let this go" after asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions and senior adviser Jared Kushner to leave the room is concerning.

"Why didn't you stop and say, 'Mr". Kamala Harris went the ridicule-by-metaphor route, drawing from her days as a lawyer and attorney general in California to heap scorn on the idea that Trump was exonerated because of how he worded his request on Flynn. "President, this is wrong, '?"

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But on the political front, Republicans circled back to the idea that this portrait painted by Comey was not good for Trump - yet it was also not a high crime or misdemeanor. "Maybe if I did it again, I would do it better".

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes", he told the committee regarding whether Trump had recorded their conversation.

Comey was not only critical of Republicans during his testimony: GOP reactions were quick to highlight his less than flattering comments about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. Clinton has blamed Comey's October 28 announcement that he was re-opening the email investigation for her defeat.

"I don't remember any conversations with the president about the Russian election interference", he said.

In a statement emailed to reporters, Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., knocked committee members as grandstanding and stopped just short of calling Comey a liar. "We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling".

His testimony before the Senate intelligence committee didn't deliver the bombshell they longed for: It was more like a series of grenades tossed in multiple spots, leaving damaging marks in different places.

His appearance before Congress was so eagerly awaited that Washington's bars were crowded by 9:30 a.m., as the denizens of a president-detesting capital amassed in unusually quiet watering holes to gaze at TV screens, occasionally cheering on Comey.

"There should be no fuzz on this". It may not be as worrisome to some as the potential of Russian collusion with a USA campaign, but Comey, again, made clear Thursday that it was a problem. "That happened. It's about as unfake as you can possibly get".

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