Over the past month, the name James Comey has been one of the most talked about and mentioned in the political landscape. His May 9th firing, a move made personally by President Donald Trump, has just been one tick on a very long list of highly controversial and potentially destructive decisions that our new president of the United States has made, a barely 5 month tenure that includes such hits as appointing the inexperienced and often deflecting Secretary of Education Betsy Devos to his Executive Order to ban the entry of immigrants and refugees from 8 Muslim-dominant countries in what many believed was a religiously and racially fueled attack on the Muslim people. However, Comey’s testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee might just be the breaking point that entirely derails the Trump presidency. Here’s some of the highlights from the hearing:
“The President appears to have threatened the Director’s job by telling him ‘I need loyalty, I need loyalty.’ That’s not how the President of the United States should behave.” – Vice Chairman Warner
“The FBI is honest, the FBI is strong, and the FBI is, and always will be, independent.” – James Comey
Comey took time in his opening statements to apologize to his former FBI colleagues for not being able to say a proper goodbye and stated that he was honored to served alongside them.
Comey has no doubt that Russia and the Russian government has any involvement in the leaks of the DNC e-mails and the entirety of the Presidential Election, but does not believe that ANY votes were tampered or faked in the election.
Comey became aware of the first Russian cyber-intrusion in the late Summer of 2015. Was aware of data compromising within the same year (2015). The Russians targeted at least “hundreds” of entities according to Comey.
Comey and the FBI did not have access to any of the DNC hardware that was hacked, neither did they have access to any of the content that may of been lifted or accessed by Russian officials.
Attorney General had directly asked Comey not to address the investigation on the Russian hacks and infiltration’s as an “investigation” and only asked that former Director Comey address it as a “matter”, something done likely to downplay the severity of the happening.
Warner takes time in his questioning to remind floor and attendees of Acting FBI Director’s positive and heartfelt confirmation of Comey’s class and credibility.
Vice Chairman: It seems strange you were in a meeting and the Attorney General, and the President asked everyone to leave… before he brought up the matter of General Flynn. Is that something that has happened before
Comey: No… I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to
Comey documented his meetings with then-President-elect and President Trump because, among other reasons, he believed that President Trump would “attempt to lie about the nature of their conversations” and “knew that he would need them one day to protect himself, the reputation of the FBI, and their investigative function.”
Comey did not believe he needed to this any one point with Presidents Bush or Obama and never felt the need to protect the truth of the matter.
When asked about the meaning of a “patronage relationship” with Trump: Trump had kept asking him to stay and mentioning that he was excited to work with Comey quickly followed by requests for “loyalty”.
“The Statue of Justice has a blindfold on because you’re not supposed to peek under it and see if your ‘patron’ is pleased.” – James Comey
Did Comey feel at some point that the facts and details of those meetings with Trump would be needed to share with the American people and was that a driving force behind the documentation?: Yes, but he did consider making the documents classified for internal reasons within the FBI, but ultimately voted against it.
Trump had never asked about or asked to have outside interference about any one of the “tens-of-thousands” of investigations that the FBI has on-going. (Mentioned a very professional, but classified conversation with President Trump about an investigation with Trump did not ask for ANY outside interference or unnecessary intel.) To our knowledge, these are one of the only classified conversations not available to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Comey: “The people saying everything (citing media speculation) usually don’t know anything and the people that actually know something aren’t saying anything.”
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” – President Donald Trump
“I believe I was fired because of the Russian Investigation. Something about the way I was investigating it, based on what the President said.” – James Comey
James Comey did not tell Trump or the White House Council that his statement, perceived as a request, about the Michael Flynn investigation, was inappropriate because he “did not feel that it was ok for him to do so given the time and circumstances.”
Rubio on Comey’s Trump records: “He asked you to be loyal, to which you said you would be ‘loyally honest’…let the Mike Flynn thing go, he’s a good guy, and for you to tell the American people what Congress knows, what I know, what everyone should know, that he is not currently being investigated in the Russia matter.”
Comey has continued to endorse and give positive testament to Bob Muller, who is currently serving as special counsel to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Intelligence Committee Member Collins condemns the actions by Donald Trump to clear the room during Comey and Trump’s Flynn conversation, but still doesn’t understand Comey’s response to President Trump, which was: “I agree, he is a good guy.”
To Ms. Collins: The reason the FBI and Comey let Trump do what he did was because it was of “investigative interest” to them, they wanted to see where that type of situation would go.
Comey states that is was “odd” to have a private meeting or a dinner with a sitting President of the United States, only ever had two with Obama, one about law enforcement and policing (over an hour) and a brief goodbye, both of which are detailed in Comey’s testimony. However, he’s never had a private dinner with a President, was so caught off guard by that notion, he thought there would be others there.
“There should be no fuzz on this. The Russians interfered with our election in the 2016 cycle. They did so with precision, with unequal technical skill. This was not a close call, this happened.” – James Comey
When asked about why the Senate Intelligence Committee should believe him (Comey): “Look at the body of my testimony. You can’t cherry-pick with things like this, you have to take the whole truth or the none of it.”
There is a classified transcript of a briefing in Trump Tower that was recorded on a classified device, thus is not available to the Intelligence Committee.
Comey believes he’d still be Director of the FBI if he didn’t get fired.
Trump was told twice (March 30th and April 11th) that was not being investigated personally.
The Logan Act has been in action for over 200 years, but Trump may be the closest to ever actually being prosecuted under it.
Comey jokes he wishes he had passed up on that dinner with Trump to spend time with his wife.
Would have closing the Flynn investigation effected the proceedings of the Russian investigation? No, but info could’ve been gathered from one of the other, according to Comey.
Sen. Angus King (D): When a President of the United States in the Oval Office says something like ‘I hope’… Do you take that as a directive.
On the Russian investigation: “It’s not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about America…The Russians don’t like this beautiful experiment that we’ve got going here and they want to dirty it and muddy it and run it into the ground.”
“(Trump) certainly knows if he taped me, I’m not offended. I’m fine with it, he can release them.” – Comey
Comey says he “doesn’t know” whether he’d have been terminated or not if Hillary Clinton was elected, based on other investigations that were going on at the time.
“Daniel C. Richman, an adviser to Mr. Comey and a Columbia University law professor, argued that despite the backlash, Mr. Comey’s decision to inform Congress preserved the F.B.I.’s independence, which will ultimately benefit the next president.” Professor Richman has confirmed he provided media with information at Comey’s request.
Trump called Comey after his inauguration to tell him that he didn’t agree with some of the allegations made against him and told him he’d hope that he’d be staying in the job for his presidency.
Do you think that Donald Trump colluded with Russia? “I cannot go into that in an open setting.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): There was a question about loyalty… let me ask you, there is a duty to pursue the law. You had mentioned though that you were willing to pledge honesty but not loyalty.