WASHINGTON, D.C. — In advance of his expected testimony before the House Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI director James Comey, in a letter to Congress on Wednesday, claimed president Donald Trump coerced him to shut down his investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn, who Democrats claim had inappropriate communications with Russia, resigned just weeks after being appointed by Trump amid revelations that he had not been forthcoming to Vice President Mike Pence in regard to his dealings with a Russian diplomat.
The letter, which includes a seven page opening statement filed with the Senate Intelligence Committee (https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/os-jcomey-060817.pdf), details nine separate meetings with President Trump, including a Jan. 27 dinner in which Trump allegedly told Comey: “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’’
“I didn’t move, speak or change my facial expression any way during the awkward silence that followed,’’ Comey said of the encounter.
On another occasion, Comey says Trump all but demanded that he halt his investigation into whether Flynn’s communications with the Russian diplomat had anything to do with election tampering.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go,’’ Comey quotes the president as saying. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’’
At one point, claims Comey, the exchanges between himself and the president became so uncomfortable that he confronted Attorney General Jeff Sessions and said he did not want to be left alone again with the president.
“Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close,” Comey wrote in the letter to Congress. “But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.”
Comey’s letter to Congress also sheds light upon the impact the Russia scandal was having at the time on President Trump and his young administration.
“On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI,” Comey writes in the letter. “He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.”
The relationship between himself and the president only worsened from there, claims Comey.
“On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation,” Comey writes. “I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.
He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.”
The president has denied any wrongdoing in his firing of Comey, claiming that his decision to terminate him from the role of FBI director was based primarily on Comey’s sub par handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Democrats, however, argue that Comey was fired in an effort to cover up a conspiracy by the president and his staff to collaborate with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
On Wednesday it was announced that Texas Democrat Al Green had begun impeachment proceedings against the president (https://rebekahworsham.org/2017/06/07/potus-under-attack-texas-democrat-starts-impeachment-process-against-trump/) on the grounds of obstruction of justice.
Comey’s testimony is scheduled to begin on Thursday starting at 10 am EST.