In a highly anticipated Senate Intelligence hearing the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) James Comey made all kinds of headlines and a startling admission, that he was a leaker of confidential information during the ongoing Russia investigation.
The Chairman of the Committee, Richard Burr, candidly asked Director Comey, “did the President at any time ask you to stop the FBI investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 US elections?”
“Not to my understanding, no,” Comey said.
Burr then asked; “Did any individual working for this administration, including the Justice Department, ask you to stop the Russian investigation?”
Again Comey replied “No.”
Once the testimony was finished President Trump’s personal attorney Mark Kasowitz wasted no time in rebuking the former director’s statements. “Comey admitted there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.”
He continued: “Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told President Trump privately, that is that the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. It is now established that the president was not being investigated for colluding with or attempting to obstruct any investigation. As the committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not been leaked during the course of these events. As he said, the president feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda, with the business of this country and with this public cloud removed.”
Perhaps one of the underreported story lines was Comey’s orchestration of leaks designed to ensure a special counsel was appointed to investigate the president.
Kasowitz criticized the former director for “unauthorized leaks of his private conversations with Trump in a retaliatory effort” to ensure a special counsel was assigned to handle the Russian interference probe. “We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated.”
Comey’s alleged private memos appeared in a New York Times article on May 16th. The memos in question, highlighted meetings and phone calls between the president and the director. However, conveniently or mysteriously, the memos have disappeared. The Senate panel has instructed the former director to provide the government documents to preserve the archives.
It didn’t take long for President Trump to call Comey’s disclosure of their private conversations ‘cowardly.’
He tweeted: “I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very “cowardly!’”
The former FBI Director confirmed at the Senate Intelligence hearing that he personally leaked the memos. According to Fox News, he disclosed that he used his Columbia University friend to leak the government memos to the press.
It was Senator Susan Collins’ (R-MA) questioning that led to the bombshell news. She asked Comey “if he had shared his confidential writings with anyone outside the FBI or the Department of Justice.”
Comey candidly replied: “I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter—I thought that might prompt the appointment of special counsel.”
Comey got his wish, as the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller to be the special counsel a few days after the NYT story broke. Critics argue that anytime you install a former prosecutor, you are looking for trouble. On a Sunday talk show one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said the President “would not rule out firing the special counsel,” if warranted.
Of course, that statement set off Trump’s critics and led to many misrepresentations of the account of the president’s true intentions.
It appears that it was all the director’s 2016 shenanigans that led to his firing. Nevertheless, Comey claimed at the hearing that Trump fired him because he didn’t like the trajectory of his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election cycle.
“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified to the Senate. “That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me.”
On top of that Comey accused the administration of spreading “lies, plain and simple.” He continued to allege Trump “chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by claiming the bureau was in disorder under his leadership.”
The bottom line for Comey was his distrust of the president he was tasked to serve.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document. I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI.”
But are there any wrong doings by President Trump?
Prominent Democrat legal beagle Alan Dershowitz says no. The president’s “statement may provide political ammunition to Trump opponents, but unless they are willing to stretch Comey’s words and take Trump’s out of context, and unless they are prepared to abandon important constitutional principles and civil liberties that protect us all, they should not be searching for ways to expand already elastic criminal statutes and shrink enduring constitutional safeguards in a dangerous and futile effort to criminalize political disagreements.”
Throwing more water on the media firestorm, both prominent Democrat attorneys Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley pushed away any illegality by the president thus far. They firmly disputed cable news commentators’ ongoing narrative that the president is guilty of obstruction and colluded with the Russians.
Turley stated: “Former FBI Director James Comey likely knew he would not be allowed to publicize his leaked memos. Comey indirectly leaked memos – about conversations with President Trump – to Columbia Law Professor Daniel Richman, who sent them to the press on his behalf. Richman could not be found at his Brooklyn Heights, NY home and has ‘gone into hiding,’” according to Turley’s New York Post account. “People are treating [the memos] like it’s a diary entry. He wrote this on an FBI computer about a pending sensitive investigation.”
With all the partisan rhetoric flying one of Trump’s former bitter competitors Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked Comey, “You ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans and the leadership of Congress knew that and have known that for weeks?”
Comey answered: “I don’t know, I find matters that are briefed to the Gang of Eight are pretty tightly held, in my experience.” (Something the former director should have learned).
Taking to Twitter, Dershowitz tweeted: “There’s No Evidence of Obstruction, and Inventing Crimes is Dangerous.” In an op/ed, he warned of the consequences of the political witch-hunt tactics used by both political parties. “All Americans who care about the Constitution and civil liberties must join together to protest efforts to expand existing criminal law to get political opponents. Today it is Trump. Yesterday it was Clinton. Tomorrow it could be you.”