What Former FBI Director Comey Said To The Senate And What It Means For Trump
Former FBI Director James Comey told a great many things the Senate Intelligence Committee in a Thursday morning session open to the public and media and proved to be a poised and collected witness.
He didn't read his riveting seven-page statement released Wednesday night, but questions surrounding the contents of it were abound. In opening statements before opening himself up to inquiries, Comey stated that he was "confused" about the rapidly "shifting explanations" President Trump gave for his removal as FBI Director in early May.
BREAKING: Comey says he believes he was fired `to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted'
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 8, 2017
"It confused me when I saw on television the president saying he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation and learned again from the media that he was telling, privately, other parties that my firing had relieved 'great pressure' on the Russia investigation," Comey said, referring to reporting on Trump's conversation with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after the dismissal. Elaborating on Trump's closed-door requests for "loyalty" in his preliminary statement, Comey later explained one of the reasons he began cataloguing all of his conversations with Trump, something he had not done while working under President Bush or Obama, was because he "was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting."
Comey says he leaked contents of memo on WH dinner to media because he thought it would prompt appointment of special counsel. — FactCheck.org (@factcheckdotorg) June 8, 2017
Noting several times how inappropriate he thought Trump's speaking to him privately was, Comey said he seen Trump's tweet last month suggesting that the president had "tapes" of their conversations, and that if those did exist, they would corroborate his testimony.
A frequent line of questioning from Senators centered on Trump's February 14 private conversation with Comey in the White House, one day after Flynn was asked to resign for misleading Vice President Pence over his conversations with Russian officials during the transition. Comey said that he was under the belief the president was directing him to lift "the cloud" or stifle the investigation into Flynn.
"I took it as a direction," Comey said. "I took it as, this is what he wants me to do." Comey also added that he didn't stop the investigation, and at that time, Flynn was indeed in "legal jeopardy" over his ties with the Russians.
There were of course questions Comey would not answer publicly, either deferring to answer them in the closed afternoon session devoted to sharing of classified information or answering that "he was no longer in government anymore" and that it could impede on Former FBI Director and current Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Comey's purposeful silence around several of the questions revolving around the nature of Russian interference in the 2016 election and it's connections to officials in the Trump camp before and after the election paint a fairly damning connect-the-dots picture. Whether charges of obstruction of justice are being pursued by Mueller's team remains to be seen, but Comey came forward on the biggest stage possible with several illuminating bombshells about President Trump and his administration.