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Ex-FBI head Comey accuses Trump of pressure on Russia probe


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Ex-FBI head Comey accuses Trump of pressure on Russia probe

By Patricia Zengerle

 

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FILE PHOTO - FBI Director James Comey waits to testify to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on "Russia's intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump asked him to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn as part of a probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

 

In written testimony, Comey said Trump told him at a meeting in the White House in February: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go."

 

The testimony from Comey, who will appear in person before a Senate panel on Thursday, puts more pressure on the Republican whose presidency has been overshadowed by allegations that Moscow helped him win last year's election.

 

But Trump, through his outside counsel, said he felt "completely and totally vindicated" by the account.

 

"The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the president was not under investigation in any Russian probe," Marc Kasowitz, Trump's attorney, said in a statement.

 

Trump fired Flynn in February in a controversy over contacts between the retired general and the Russian ambassador to the United States. The FBI has been investigating Flynn as it looks into allegations of links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

 

In his statement, posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee's website, Comey said Trump also called him on March 30 to say he had nothing to do with Russia and asked what "we could do to lift the cloud" of the FBI's Russia investigation.

 

During that phone call, Comey said he told Trump the FBI was not investigating the president personally. "He repeatedly told me: 'We need to get that fact out,'” Comey said.

 

Comey said he had told Trump on three occasions he was not being investigated, confirming an earlier account from the president.

Several congressional committees, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a special counsel, are looking into reports that Russia tried to tilt last November's election in Trump's favour, using means such as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. Trump and the Kremlin have separately denied any collusion.

 

LEGAL FALLOUT?

 

Some legal experts said Comey’s written statement could be used to show that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.

 

“It shows the president was doing everything he could to shut down the Flynn investigation,” said Andrew Wright, a professor of criminal law at Savannah Law School.

 

Bruce Green, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, said, however, it would be difficult to show that Trump intended to obstruct justice. Trump could say he was merely vouching for Flynn's character and voicing concerns about how the probe was interfering with his ability to function effectively as president, Green said.

 

While a sitting president is unlikely to face criminal prosecution, obstruction of justice is an offence that could lead to impeachment hearings.

 

In impeachment proceedings, Congress must determine that a president committed a "high crime or misdemeanour."

 

Comey said Trump told him at a one-on-one dinner on Jan. 27, a week after the president took office, that: "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty."

 

During the dinner, the president asked him if he wanted to stay on as FBI director, Comey said. The former FBI head said he became concerned that Trump was trying to create "some sort of patronage relationship."

 

After a Feb. 14 meeting on counterterrorism in the Oval Office, Trump dismissed all the participants except Comey, according to the testimony.

 

The president then initiated a conversation about Flynn.

 

Comey quoted Trump as telling him: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

 

(Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann and Jeff Mason in Washington and; Jan Wolfe in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Peter Cooney)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-06-08
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So Donald did try to get the investigation into Flynn stopped.

I am looking forward to hearing him explain why he tried to stop the investigation and also why he subsequently lied about it when questioned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/18/trump-to-hold-news-conference-at-white-house-as-political-crisis-deepens/

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Trump's asking Comey to close down the Flynn investigation is not, by itself, proof of anything illegal as it can (and will) be argued that Trump was merely trying to persuade Comey to cut a "good man" some slack and back off of the investigation. However, when coupled with the alleged requests to both Coates and Rogers to intervene and get the FBI investigation closed, there is ample reason to question what he was doing and why. And given Trump's ongoing refusal to open up and be completely transparent, given his ongoing efforts to deflect from the deepening inquiries, it is reasonable to assume that there is more to this story that Trump does not want exposed.

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4 hours ago, darksidedog said:

So Donald did try to get the investigation into Flynn stopped.

I am looking forward to hearing him explain why he tried to stop the investigation and also why he subsequently lied about it when questioned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/18/trump-to-hold-news-conference-at-white-house-as-political-crisis-deepens/

Here is the quote:  "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

 

First, can you prove intent from this statement???

Second, is there any corroboration?  Or is it just Comey's word?

Frankly, that's a fairly weak statement from Trump--if he actually said it.  There is no obstruction in the statement. 

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4 hours ago, webfact said:

Comey said he had told Trump on three occasions he was not being investigated, confirming an earlier account from the president.

So, all those times that the NY Times and CNN said he was being investigate turned out to be outright lies.

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2 minutes ago, Usernames said:

So, all those times that the NY Times and CNN said he was being investigate turned out to be outright lies.

AFAIK nobody claimed Trump was being investigated. His campaign was and probably is.

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3 minutes ago, stevenl said:

AFAIK nobody claimed Trump was being investigated. His campaign was and probably is.

"An earlier version of this story said that Comey would dispute Trump's interpretation of their conversations. But based on his prepared remarks, Comey outlines three conversations with the President in which he told Trump he was not personally under investigation." http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/comey-testimony-refute-trump-russian-investigation/index.html

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/336871-cnn-issues-correction-after-comey-statement-contradicts-reporting

 

Edited by Usernames
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41 minutes ago, Usernames said:

"An earlier version of this story said that Comey would dispute Trump's interpretation of their conversations. But based on his prepared remarks, Comey outlines three conversations with the President in which he told Trump he was not personally under investigation." http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/06/politics/comey-testimony-refute-trump-russian-investigation/index.html

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/336871-cnn-issues-correction-after-comey-statement-contradicts-reporting

 

Your links have nothing to do with my statement that there was no claim that Trump was being investigated. The earlier CNN report stated that Comey would not state that Trump was not being investigated, now they state that Comey will claim that Trump was not being investigated.

So where is the statement from credible media that Trump was being investigated?

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2 minutes ago, stevenl said:

The earlier CNN report stated that Comey would not state that Trump was not being investigated, now they state that Comey will claim that Trump was not being investigated.

Tortured prose. Do you think you could express that a bit more clearly?

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1 minute ago, Usernames said:

Tortured prose. Do you think you could express that a bit more clearly?

See post number 6. Your links don't show that. So again, where is the statement from credible media that Trump was being investigated?

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19 minutes ago, Usernames said:

Good God, man. It's in the quote. Don't be obtuse.

In that case, please quote it here. To help you, your quote in post number 7 is nothing of the sort.

Edited by stevenl
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1 hour ago, Usernames said:

Here is the quote:  "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

 

First, can you prove intent from this statement???

Second, is there any corroboration?  Or is it just Comey's word?

Frankly, that's a fairly weak statement from Trump--if he actually said it.  There is no obstruction in the statement. 

The statement by itself isn't that bad. Its the firing of the person it was directed at after they didn't comply that is the issue. Especially since the reason given for the firing contradicts previous statements by Trump and the administration.

 

Corroboration isn't necessary as well. Think about how common it is for the word of a police officer to be taken at face value. If it ever got to a trial (very unlikely as it would be) it would be up to the jurors to weigh the credibility of Comey as a witness. If they believe he is credible enough, they can take his word as true without any other supporting evidence. This is why Comey started writing the memos to document his meetings. Either very early on Comey decided to play a long con to entrap Trump by writing false memos or he is being honest. The former is very unlikely, one might even say it is  an unreasonable claim, as Comey would have little motive for this and it would be extremely risky to be caught.

 

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2 hours ago, Traveler19491 said:

Trump's asking Comey to close down the Flynn investigation is not, by itself, proof of anything illegal as it can (and will) be argued that Trump was merely trying to persuade Comey to cut a "good man" some slack and back off of the investigation.

An argument already flawed by the supposition that Flynn was a "good man".

 

Trump fired Flynn because he lied to VP Pence; the most senior statesman after the POTUS.

 

Then he expects us to believe that his only reason to pressure Comey and the FBI to cut Flynn some slack is because Flynn is still a "good man"? 

 

In itself, there's absolutely nothing illegal there but it absolutely reeks of the stench of the undrained Washington swamp.

 

No impeachment, nobody calls foul, no harm done, politics as usual.

 

All grist to the mill though.

Edited by NanLaew
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it's obstruction. but what also about......

 

really lousy character assessment...... of Comey...... by Trump?


that's our great CEO president?

  that kind of character assessment? of Comey?
     is he THAT people stupid?

 

and Trump people think that even that sort of thing is cool?
  hellloooooooooooo????

 

 

 

Edited by maewang99
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23 minutes ago, riclag said:

This is a nothing burger.

And yet, despite your near omniscient insight, for some inexplicable reason, Congress, the FBI, and the Special Counsel labor on. Perhaps you should let them in on your special, privileged understanding.

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6 hours ago, darksidedog said:

So Donald did try to get the investigation into Flynn stopped.

I am looking forward to hearing him explain why he tried to stop the investigation and also why he subsequently lied about it when questioned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/18/trump-to-hold-news-conference-at-white-house-as-political-crisis-deepens/

He'll just deny everything. Then if provided with irrefutable evidence, deny his denials and start shouting that it is all a conspiracy, which he will subsequently deny ever saying. Any case could go on for donkey's years that way...

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6 minutes ago, baboon said:

He'll just deny everything. Then if provided with irrefutable evidence, deny his denials and start shouting that it is all a conspiracy, which he will subsequently deny ever saying. Any case could go on for donkey's years that way...

Yes, and as pointed out on a radio commentary I listened to this morning, his administration will be tied up in investigations and hearings until at least the mid-terms whereupon hopefully the voters will realize that he has no hope of ever "Making America Great Again"... because basically this pathetic, jingoistic, nationalist, red-capped, fist punching, 'whoop-whoop' rubbish never applied in the first place.

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20 minutes ago, maewang99 said:

it's obstruction. but what also about......

 

really lousy character assessment...... of Comey...... by Trump?


that's our great CEO president?

  that kind of character assessment? of Comey?
     is he THAT people stupid?

 

and Trump people think that even that sort of thing is cool?
  hellloooooooooooo????

 

 

 

It's not obstruction "pressure on subordinates is not obstruction" according to a former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.He also went on to say in the interview "the key element to prove  obstruction of justice is "corruption" and their isn't any".I posted a link to the conversation it starts  at minute  36:50.

 

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Just now, riclag said:

It's not obstruction "pressure on subordinates is not obstruction" according to a former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.He also went on to say in the interview "the key element to prove  obstruction of justice is "corruption" and their isn't any".I posted a link to the conversation it starts  at minute  36:50.

 

But none of this is about "pressure". It's about whether or not Trump ever asked any of these people to either backoff, shut down, or intervene in the investigation. No, pressure is not illegal, unless it is directed in an attempt to interfere with an investigation. That's what is being questioned.

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7 minutes ago, NanLaew said:

Yes, and as pointed out on a radio commentary I listened to this morning, his administration will be tied up in investigations and hearings until at least the mid-terms 

They will of course deny they are under investigation...

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42 minutes ago, Traveler19491 said:

But none of this is about "pressure". It's about whether or not Trump ever asked any of these people to either backoff, shut down, or intervene in the investigation. No, pressure is not illegal, unless it is directed in an attempt to interfere with an investigation. That's what is being questioned.

And why he asked the then Director of the FBI to back off on investigating someone he had just fired himself for lying.

 

"Good man" and "He's having a tough time" excuses notwithstanding.

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Unfortunately as damning as this is I cannot see that it is strong enough to trigger an impeachment.  Unless there is something more substantial to come?  Nobody wants Trump moved more than me (along with the vast majority of the world) but it needs to be watertight to stop Trump squirming and wriggling his way out of it.

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8 hours ago, darksidedog said:

So Donald did try to get the investigation into Flynn stopped.

I am looking forward to hearing him explain why he tried to stop the investigation and also why he subsequently lied about it when questioned.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/05/18/trump-to-hold-news-conference-at-white-house-as-political-crisis-deepens/

 

Unfortunately there seems to be only Comey's word for that.

 

But those who hate Trump will claim it's gospel whilst not so long ago claiming he was a liar and cheat for exposing things about Hilary.

 

It seems America is blighted with dishonesty. What happened to the country once admired for its openness and honesty?

 

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39 minutes ago, NanLaew said:

And why he asked the then Director of the FBI to back off on investigating someone he had just fired himself for lying.

 

"Good man" and "He's having a tough time" excuses notwithstanding.

 

Trump reminds me of a CEO I once worked for. We all knew that once he started praising and defending someone, they were on their way out!

 

Anyone working for him must be mad. He can apparently turn for the slightest of reasons, real or perceived.

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3 hours ago, vaultdweller0013 said:

The statement by itself isn't that bad. Its the firing of the person it was directed at after they didn't comply that is the issue. Especially since the reason given for the firing contradicts previous statements by Trump and the administration.

 

Corroboration isn't necessary as well. Think about how common it is for the word of a police officer to be taken at face value. If it ever got to a trial (very unlikely as it would be) it would be up to the jurors to weigh the credibility of Comey as a witness. If they believe he is credible enough, they can take his word as true without any other supporting evidence. This is why Comey started writing the memos to document his meetings. Either very early on Comey decided to play a long con to entrap Trump by writing false memos or he is being honest. The former is very unlikely, one might even say it is  an unreasonable claim, as Comey would have little motive for this and it would be extremely risky to be caught.

 

From the OP- he has it right.

Bruce Green, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, said, however, it would be difficult to show that Trump intended to obstruct justice.

 

Impeaching the president is a serious matter, and needs more than the word of a fired employee to convict, especially as it is a case of "he said" without proof.

Corroboration isn't necessary to impeach- on what planet?

The jury in this case would be the senate. Good luck getting them to uphold impeachment. That would be if it even got through the house.

 

I know the Trump haters will use this as a stick to beat Trump with, but it is nowhere near high crimes and misdemeanours, so not going anywhere, IMO.

 

Unless Comey comes up with something more significant this afternoon, this is over.

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2 minutes ago, thaibeachlovers said:

From the OP- he has it right.

Bruce Green, a professor of law at Fordham University School of Law, said, however, it would be difficult to show that Trump intended to obstruct justice.

 

Impeaching the president is a serious matter, and needs more than the word of a fired employee to convict, especially as it is a case of "he said" without proof.

Corroboration isn't necessary to impeach- on what planet?

The jury in this case would be the senate. Good luck getting them to uphold impeachment. That would be if it even got through the house.

 

I know the Trump haters will use this as a stick to beat Trump with, but it is nowhere near high crimes and misdemeanours, so not going anywhere, IMO.

 

Unless Comey comes up with something more significant this afternoon, this is over.

Are you aware that there is still an ongoing FBI investigation? And that Comey is no longer heading that FBI investigation? So why would it be over if Comey doesn't come up with anything more significant?

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Trump already distrusted Comey from the HRC events, but was trying to suss out his usefulness  as a political tool.  Comey, wasn't having it and their interactions one on one sound strained and awkward.   When the FBI Director feels the need to start preparing memos for the record to cover his ass after private interactions with a new President of the United States, things ain't good.

 

Comey's public/unclass statement doesn't contain any new red meat.  I think that's what the "nothing burger" comment meant as the OP is, for the most part, just another Reuter's rehash article. 

 

But, there's plenty going on between the lines of Comey's statement.  An interesting read.  Be even more interesting to listen and watch him testify.

 

http://im.ft-static.com/content/images/4cb442cc-4bac-11e7-919a-1e14ce4af89b.img

 

 

 

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