James Comey

The Comey What If

Byron York: “A key lesson emerged from the testimony of Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week: Without the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the Trump-Russia investigation would be on a downward trajectory. The collusion charge, originally the heart of the investigation, would be fading for lack of evidence. Investigators would be going down side roads involving Flynn and Manafort in which the public would have little interest.”

“But not after Comey. At the Sessions hearing, Democrats had nothing new on collusion. They barely seemed interested. Instead, they focused to a great extent on trying to get Sessions to reveal what the president did or did not say in private discussions — about Comey. On the Democratic side of the hearing — and much of the Republican side, as well — the issue was Comey, Comey, Comey. In the end, it could be that the president’s impatience to get rid of Comey in order to shorten an investigation that he believed to be going nowhere resulted in a new investigation that could last the rest of Trump’s time in office.”

Grassley Rankles GOP with New Comey Investigation

“Republicans are wary of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) decision to launch a Judiciary Committee investigation into the firing of former FBI director James Comey,” The Hill reports.

Said Grassley: “There should be no improper interference with FBI investigations to favor any elected official or candidate of either party.”

“Grassley’s announcement took his Republican colleagues by surprise, and several said they are uncomfortable with the addition of yet another investigation that could target the Trump White House.”

Putin Offers Comey Asylum

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is ready to offer James Comey asylum if the former FBI director faces political persecution, Politico reports.

Said Putin: “If Comey will be under the threat of political persecution, we are ready to accept him here. It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend.”

Why Republicans Are Worried About Mueller

Mike Allen notes that with the Washington Post bombshell report that the obstruction probe is in full swing, White House officials and Republicans sweating profusely for several reasons:

  • “They know Trump talked to countless people about ending the Flynn probe, so they assume Comey’s version of events is true.”
  • “They assume he did, indeed, ask Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, if they could help derail the Flynn probe, as the WashPost reported. They also assume he said similar things to other officials.”
  • “Nobody has privately mounted a straight-faced argument to us that Trump didn’t say this stuff to Comey or to Coats/Rogers. That’s telling in itself. The fact that the Trump public position — that Comey is a perjurer — isn’t being argued in private.”

Also troubling: “Any obstruction probe requires context, which means investigators digging into the finances of Flynn, Trump and Jared Kushner. This is the phase of the probe many Republicans have always feared most.”

Voters Trust Comey More Than Trump

“Voters have greater faith in former FBI Director James Comey to tell the truth than in President Donald Trump, who has disputed the veracity of Comey’s sworn testimony before a Senate committee last week. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in the days following Comey’s appearance before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 45% of voters said they trust Comey more to tell the truth, compared to 32% for Trump. Twenty-three percent have no opinion.”

Comey Leaves Trump Under Cloud of Investigations

Bloomberg: “By neither exonerating nor convicting the president, Comey laid down during his Thursday appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee a road map of questions for special counsel Robert Mueller to follow about Trump’s conduct, a path it could take Mueller months, even years, to follow. At the same time, the head of the panel said its investigation is just getting started, and a second committee may summon Comey to testify.”

“While Republicans hope to move past Comey’s revelations and get back to their agenda, having a president under a ‘cloud’ — Trump’s word — with tarnished credibility, diminished political standing and distractions galore won’t do anything to bring his health care, tax or infrastructure proposals to the finish line.”

New York Times: “Thanks to Mr. Trump’s own actions, the cloud darkened considerably on Thursday and now seems likely to hover over his presidency for months, if not years, to come.”

David Frum: “Friends of the president will reply that the Comey hearing did not produce a smoking gun. That’s true. But the floor is littered with cartridge casings, there’s a smell of gunpowder in the air, bullet holes in the wall, and a warm weapon on the table. Comey showed himself credible, convincing, and consistent. Against him are arrayed the confused excuses of the least credible president in modern American history.”

Mike Allen: “There is no way to spin away this was a very dark and damning day for Trump. The head of the FBI testified he so distrusted his own president and White House that he took detailed notes of his conversations to prove he felt pressure to drop an investigation of collusion with the Russians. He then felt so strongly he leaked those notes to the press to force a special prosecutor.”

Comey Goes Nuclear In Showdown with Trump

Rick Klein: “He accused the president and his top aides of lying. He suggested that the president wanted special treatment in exchange for loyalty. He said he thinks he lost his job because of how he handled the Russia investigation.”

“James Comey served notice that if President Donald Trump operates like a bully, there are powerful people who know how to punch back. The ex-FBI director’s powerful, riveting testimony — delivered under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee — overflowed with headlines and revelations that will resonate for months or longer.”

“Among the big takeaways: In Comey, Trump has made an enemy who knows the levers of Washington power and has already put in motion forces that are beyond the president’s ability to control.”

Comey Helped Leak Details of Trump Meetings

Former FBI Director James Comey “said he shared copies of his memos documenting his meetings with President Trump with a friend — an unnamed professor at Columbia Law School — so this person could share the information with a reporter,” the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “He said he did so with the explicit hope of triggering the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian election interference.”

James Comey Testifies Before the Senate

Former FBI Director James Comey is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on President Trump’s potential interference in his investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

Politico: “White House aides are trying to keep Trump busy Thursday morning with meetings so he won’t watch TV and tweet during the hearing.”

However, you can watch a live feed on C-SPAN.

Was Trump’s Behavior Legal But Inappropriate?

Rick Klein: “Even in the black-or-white, red-or-blue worlds of present-day politics, several things can be true at once about James Comey’s testimony. The conduct Comey ascribes to President Trump may be both technically legal and wholly inappropriate. Trump’s request for loyalty and push for the ‘cloud’ to be lifted are far from normal and are potentially alarming. Yet that doesn’t mean Comey acted perfectly, with his pledge of ‘honest loyalty’ and the now-famous three assurances that Trump himself was not under investigation.”

“Comey’s prepared testimony gives Trump a window for an out, an opportunity to say he did nothing wrong, and simply wanted that word out so he could focus on governing. But Comey has not yet begun to talk: By having his testimony out for all to digest a day early, senators can sharpen their questions and start to pick at some of the more intriguing threads in the timeline he laid out. White House allies are split on how much to either attack or embrace Comey’s testimony. Remember: Comey, who’s been called a ‘nut job’ by the president and been accused of ‘atrocities’ by a White House spokesperson, is a savvy pro in the hot seat. He can lift clouds but he can also unleash new kinds of weather patterns on the president.”