MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Former FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers in Washington Thursday that President Trump tried to interfere with an investigation into his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.
In a remarkable hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said the President lied about whey he was fired. The Senators grilled Comey for hours in a hearing sparked by the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign connections with Russia.
Comey said President Trump tried to interfere with an investigation into Michael Flynn, demanded loyalty, and that he lied and defamed Comey. It was a rare inside look at conflict between the new president and about-to-be-fired FBI director.
Comey testified under oath that President Trump asked him multiple times to declare his loyalty, and Comey said repeatedly the President lied about their private meetings and why he was fired.
“The administration chose to defame me, and more importantly, the FBI, by saying the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led,” Comey said in the hearing. “That the workforce had lost confidence in it’s leader. Those were lies, plain and simple.”
Comey told the Intelligence Commitee he was disturbed by multiple meetings with the president, which he described as awkward and inappropriate. He was so concerned, that he kept contemporaneous notes about each one.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document,” Comey said.
Comey said President Trump did not tell the truth when he told reporters he did not pressure Comey to “lay off” an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. He also said it never occurred to him the President taped their conversations, as the President suggested in a tweet.
“I saw the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said.
President Trump had a rare day without tweeting. He watched the Comey hearing at the White House with his lawyer, who later gave a statement to reporters.
“The president never — in form or substance — directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” attorney Marc Kasowitz said.
Comey confirmed that he told President Trump that he was not the target of an FBI investigation into Russian collusion, but that could change.
The former FBI Director also said he leaked to the press the explosive information about his meetings with the President, hoping it would force a special prosecutor. It did.
With the accusation that President Trump directed James Comey to slow down, or lay off, the investigation of Michael Flynn, some are wondering if that constitutes obstruction of justice. The president’s allies note the allegation is that President Trump told Comey he “hoped” he could drop the investigation.
Republicans say that’s not obstruction of justice, and that no one has ever been convicted of “hoping” something happens. Democrats say that holds the same power from a President as giving an order.