Key US lawmakers vow full airing of reasons for Comey firing

Owen Stevens
May 24, 2017

The New York Times reports - and The Washington Post and other news organizations confirm - that President Trump, at a meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey the day after national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned, asked Vice President Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave him and Comey alone in the Oval Office.

President Donald Trump called two top intelligence community figures to request that they deny in public any evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, multiple current and former U.S. officials with knowledge tell CNN.

Comey's move is certainly bad news for the administration, as it suggests Comey suspects his testimony on the White House's actions may indeed pertain to Mueller's own investigation of Russian election meddling and potential White House collusion.

Rosenstein also spoke to lawmakers about why he recommended former FBI Director James Comey be fired from his position for his handling of the FBI's investigation over former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. The Washington Post reports that NSA officials are prepared to make it available to House and Senate committees investigating the issue as well as former FBI Director Robert Mueller's investigation.

It's not clear how Trump phrased his requests. Yet they, too, will require time if they are to assess the issues Congress is uniquely suited to probe - any noncriminal misjudgments and ethical lapses by Trump and his circle, not to mention how to prepare the country for future Russian cyberattacks. Asked if he wished for a bit less drama from the White House, Rubio described it as political reality, explaining: "People got what they voted for". Trump, in all his complaining about the investigation and how badly he was being treated, does not seem to have ever claimed that his objections were related to its impact on his diplomatic relations with Russian Federation. The release of that tape, in which Nixon agreed that his staffers should try to get top Central Intelligence Agency officials to shut down the FBI's Watergate investigation, led to his resignation days later.

We asked James Fearon, a professor of political science at Stanford who has studied worldwide bargaining extensively, what he made of the White House explanation and what kind of "pressure" might be helpful in a bargaining situation with another country from which a leader wants to extract concessions.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a member of the intelligence committee, said she also plans to press Comey regarding what was discussed with Trump about Flynn and whether he was asked by Trump to alter the FBI investigation. For their part, White House staff members don't seem very happy, either.

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Flynn would not discuss them without receiving immunity for his testimony from the committee, they added. Trump has denied reports that he asked FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into Flynn.

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The president's spokesman did not deny the report, but said Comey made it harder for the USA to engage with Russian Federation . The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI's Russian Federation investigation.

This is not a "where there's smoke there's fire" situation.

"The gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russian Federation to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news", H.R. McMaster said in an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos".

There is one key difference: So far, we only "know" these things from anonymous reports, as the White House emphasized in its statement on the matter.

The article has Trump saying that by firing Comey, the "great pressure" he faced "because of Russia" has been taken off. "The president will continue to focus on his agenda that he was elected to pursue by the American people".

But that may soon change.

McCain was speaking just before Coats appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which he chairs.

Leaders of the House oversight committee, Republican Jason Chaffetz and Democrat Elijah Cummings, said they would seek to subpoena any notes of meetings between Comey and Trump.

Other reports by VgToday

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