What to Expect During Comey’s Congressional Testimony
Based on his testimony that was released in advance today, Comey will extensively discuss his dislike of working with President Trump.
Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow at 10 a.m. EST — but his just-released prepared testimony suggests what he will tell them. Democrats intend to ask him why President Trump fired him. They assert Trump fired him in order to shut down the FBI’s investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians to influence the presidential election.
They are also expected to ask about Trump requesting that he shut down the FBI’s probe of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. Flynn resigned after it came out that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about a conversation he’d had with the Russian ambassador. Democrats want to show that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.
Trump’s Firing of Comey
Trump himself has contributed to the controversy. He has stated the reason he fired Comey was because he mishandled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server while she was secretary of state. He said that he based his decision to fire Comey on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein. He later said he had decided to fire Comey even before receiving their memo.
Comey announced on July 5 last year that he was recommending no prosecution of Clinton. Trump expressed his disappointment over Twitter.
FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2016
A few days before the election, when Comey announced the FBI was re-opening the probe into Clinton’s server, Trump responded that it “took guts.” In early May, before he was fired, Comey testified that it made him “mildly nauseous” to re-open the Clinton probe.
Comey’s Testimony is Already Out
Comey allegedly asked the Senate to leak his testimony tomorrow in advance.
In it, he describes how he met with Trump to provide him with information about Russian efforts to influence the election. He describes the material in the so-called Trump dossier as “salacious and unverified.” Critically, Comey confirms that he said several times his investigation did not target Trump himself.
Comey describes a conversation with Trump where he told Trump he was “not reliable” in the traditional political sense. He kept quiet after Trump said he needed loyalty, but later conceded he could provide “honest loyalty.”
The FBI is “an independent investigative agency,” he said, even though the president has full authority to appoint and fire its director.
During another private conversation with the president, Comey says the president urged him to drop the investigation into Flynn. Comey said he agreed with Trump that Flynn is “a good guy,” but did not respond to the request.
Comey says he did not think the president was asking him to drop the broader investigation of whether the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians. He admits that he decided not to pass along Trump’s request to the team investigating Flynn. Instead, the investigation “moved ahead at full speed.”
After those conversations, Comey said he implored Sessions to stop the president from directly communicating with him. Sessions did not respond, and the communications continued. Comey, who is 6’8, once tried to blend in with dark blue curtains in the Blue Room during an event in order to avoid the president.
Comey has a history of making provocative — or even reckless — statements while testifying in Congress.
Comey has made provocative — or even reckless — statements while testifying in Congress. In March, he took the extraordinary step of publicly disclosing for the first time that the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. He admitted the FBI only discloses its investigations in rare circumstances. There was a rumor that Trump was going to claim executive privilege to prohibit Comey from testifying, but that turned out to be false.
Senators to Watch Tomorrow
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He has run the committee in a collegial, bipartisan manner with the ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). However, hinting at how valid he believes the accusations are of Russian interference with the election, Warner said that his work on the committee’s investigation is “probably the most important thing I’ve done in public life.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is the second-ranking Republican in the Senate and known for not holding back with grilling questions. Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Roy Blount (R-Mo.) can also be expected to ask some piercing questions. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as the most well-known senator on the committee, will probably steal much of the show.
The testimony will be aired on C-SPAN 3, which can be viewed online. Other cable outlets are also expected to broadcast the testimony with all the pomp and enthusiasm reserved for the Oscars.
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