With devastating precision, fired FBI Director James Comey methodically built a case against Donald Trump on Thursday, detailing how the president attempted to derail the investigation into Russian interference in the US election.
Former Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey departs after testifying before a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US, June 8, 2017. His rationale was that his role as a high-profile surrogate and advisor for the Trump campaign made it inappropriate for him to be involved in an investigation of that same campaign, a rationale which received little pushback, except reportedly from the president himself.
Comey testified that President Donald Trump had expressed hope he would end an FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
He noted that Trump had said to Comey, in a February 14 meeting in the Oval Office, that "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go". Comey quoted Trump as saying, "He is a good guy".
"You may have taken it as a direction, but that's not what he said", said Sen.
On May 16, when the New York Times reported contents of a Comey memo documenting a meeting with Trump, we learned that Comey had created a "paper trail" on Trump's attempts to subvert FBI investigations.
Here's another analogy most employees would appreciate: When a boss says he or she hopes you will do something, workers who want to keep their jobs take it as an order.
"And so that to me, as an investigator, is a very significant fact".More news: Trump's first press conference since Comey hearing
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At the same time, he strongly suggested obstruction.
"And I think you saw today the overwhelming majority of the intel members, Democrats and Republicans, feel that Jim Comey is credible. That is a very big deal". Comey tried to explain that the investigation of Clinton's emails was finished whereas the investigation of Trump's campaign is ongoing.
"I've seen the tweet about tapes". They're coming after America, which I hope we all love equally.
Everything Trump did before and after that exchange at a one-on-one White House dinner would seem to validate Comey's takeaway.
The three-hour public hearing turned into a morning-long event on the social network, resulting in 3.6 million tweets sent between 7 a.m. ET and 1:30 p.m. Comey's testimony was streamed live on Twitter in addition to its broadcast on C-SPAN, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS and all news networks. "So I asked a close friend of mine to do it".
Comey acknowledged leaking a memo detailing his interactions in an effort to speed the appointment of a special counsel, and thank goodness he did.
Comey would not say whether he thought the president sought to obstruct justice, but added it would be up to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is now investigating the Russian Federation allegations, "to sort that out". The former director immediately dove into the heart of the fraught political controversy around his firing and whether Trump interfered in the bureau's Russian Federation investigation, as he elaborated on written testimony delivered Wednesday.
"The facts haven't changed; the then-Senator did not have any private or side conversations with any Russian officials at the Mayflower Hotel", Department of Justice spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.
The high profile hearing is scheduled to find out the circumstances under which Comey was sacked and if Trump had interfered with FBI investigations.