Former FBI. director James Comey plans to testify on Thursday that US President Donald Trump pressurised him on multiple occasions using mild threats about his (Comey’s) job and on other occasions demanding obedience, saying “I need loyalty. I want loyalty”. Trump wanted Comey to make a public announcement that he was not under investigation in connection with the Justice Department inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
James Comey's opening remarks set the stage for an explosive showdown Thursday morning at 10 a.m.
These are the key takeaways:
- Comey confirms that Trump requested his loyalty.
- Comey told Trump in January and March there was no active counter-intelligence case against him.
- Comey says Trump asked him to drop the FBI probe into Michael Flynn (and Comey clarifies in opening remarks that Flynn probe is not - Russia probe and neither did Trump say so)
- Trump asked Comey to "lift the cloud" over him and the Russia investigation.
- Trump asked Comey what he was doing to clear him and to make a public announcement that there's no probe against Trump.
Comey reveals sensational details of six conversations in the statement released on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s website a full day ahead of the biggest story in Washington since election night.
“I need loyalty. I want loyalty,” are the words James Comey will testify Trump told him at a dinner in January before Trump’s inauguration.
“I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner”, the statement reads.
Analyst shops are doing brisk business with the unexpected gold dig: Is this obstruction of justice or not?
"Comey's statement establishes obstruction of justice by Trump. Period.", says Jeffrey Toobin, senior legal analyst for CNN.
Obama’s White House ethics lawyer Norm Eisen says Comey’s account of his past meetings with President Trump takes Ameirca into Watergate territory.
“I think that this now with the additional detail in the Comey memo, this moves us into the same realm as Nixon’s obstruction, maybe worse. This is the equivalent of the Nixon tapes.”
Comey also explains the genesis of his now famous memos. He says he "felt compelled" to document his very first conversation with Trump in a memo, and began typing it out on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment he left the meeting. "Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward."
Comey says he recalls nine one-on-one conversations with Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone.
In comparison, Comey had just two private conversations with President Obama in the three years before Trump.
In the statement, Comey states upfront that every single detail is not here but the relevant information is included.
From the first to the last paragraph, the statement skewers Trump. Sample how it begins:
“I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump gTower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President- Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.”
Straightaway, Comey corners the US President on two counts:
That, yes, Russia interfered, according to US Intelligence officers.
That there was a "personal" angle as well, although unverified.
Throughout the 3000 word letter, Comey relates instances where Trump is attempting to get him to dilute the bureau's investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
So, now that Comey’s testimony scheduled for Thursday, June 8 is out, what’s still to come?
The Senate testimony that’s out contains prepared remarks which are the customary opening of any Senate hearing. There will be 19 senators grilling Comey on the contents of this statement already out and getting even more sensational soundbites out of Comey on a Thursday that has taken on Monica Lewinsky-esque excitement.
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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2017 05:42 AM