Comey: Rus­sia hold on Trump pos­si­ble

The Southland Times - - WORLD -

UNITED STATES: For­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey thinks it’s pos­si­ble the Rus­sians have com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion on Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and that there is ‘‘some ev­i­dence of ob­struc­tion of jus­tice’’ in the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions. That in­cluded Trump’s re­quest to end an FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into for­mer White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn.

In an ABC News in­ter­view that aired yes­ter­day, Comey ac­knowl­edged it was ‘‘stun­ning’’ to think Rus­sia could have dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion on a pres­i­dent but said he could not dis­count the pos­si­bil­ity.

‘‘It is stun­ning and I wish I wasn’t say­ing it, but it’s just – it’s the truth. I can­not say that. It al­ways struck me and still strikes me as un­likely, and I woulda been able to say with high con­fi­dence about any other pres­i­dent I dealt with, but I can’t. It’s pos­si­ble.’’

He also an­swered ‘‘pos­si­bly’’ when asked if the pres­i­dent was at­tempt­ing to ob­struct jus­tice when he cleared the Oval Of­fice of other of­fi­cials last Fe­bru­ary and en­cour­aged him to close the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Flynn.

Flynn pleaded guilty last De­cem­ber to ly­ing to the FBI and is now co-op­er­at­ing with spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The in­ter­view aired hours af­ter a vit­ri­olic Twit­ter out­burst from the pres­i­dent, who called Comey ‘‘slip­pery’’, sug­gested he should be in jail and la­belled him the ‘‘the WORST FBI Di­rec­tor in his­tory, by far!’’

Trump fired off a se­ries of tweets ahead of Comey’s first in­ter- view on his book, A Higher Loy­alty: Truth, Lies and Lead­er­ship, which of­fers his version of the events sur­round­ing his fir­ing as FBI di­rec­tor by Trump and the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling and Hil­lary Clin­ton’s email prac­tices.

In an ex­cerpt shown on Sun­day, Comey said his be­lief that Clin­ton would beat Trump in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was a fac­tor in his de­ci­sion to dis­close the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her emails.

Trump seized on that, say­ing Comey ‘‘was mak­ing de­ci­sions based on the fact that he thought she was go­ing to win, and he wanted a job. Slime­ball!’’

Comey’s dis­clo­sure shortly be­fore the elec­tion that the FBI had re­opened its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her email use en­raged Democrats. Af­ter Clin­ton’s loss, many Democrats blamed Comey, and Clin­ton her­self has said it hurt her elec­tion prospects.

Trump yes­ter­day pushed back again against Comey’s claims that Trump sought his loy­alty, say­ing, ‘‘I hardly even knew this guy. Just an­other of his many lies.’’

He ques­tioned Comey’s in­tel­li­gence and place in his­tory, writ­ing, ‘‘Slip­pery James Comey, a man who al­ways ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Di­rec­tor in his­tory, by far!’’

He also sug­gested Comey should be im­pris­oned, say­ing, ‘‘how come he gave up Clas­si­fied In­for­ma­tion (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail).’’

There is no in­di­ca­tion Comey is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for do­ing ei­ther.

Asked if the pres­i­dent wanted the Jus­tice De­part­ment to in­ves­ti­gate Comey, White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said that she was not aware of a spe­cific re­quest. But, she said, ‘‘if they feel there was any wrong­do­ing, they should cer­tainly look into that’’.

Comey is em­bark­ing on a pub­lic roll­out of his book this week. In the book, Comey com­pares Trump to a mafia don and calls his lead­er­ship of the coun­try ‘‘ego driven and about per­sonal loy­alty’’.

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, set­ting off a scram­ble at the Jus­tice De­part­ment that led to the ap­point­ment of Mueller as spe­cial coun­sel over­see­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mueller’s probe has ex­panded to in­clude whether Trump ob­structed jus­tice by fir­ing Comey.

Trump has said he fired Comey be­cause of his han­dling of the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Clin­ton’s email prac­tices. Trump used the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as a cud­gel in the cam­paign and re­peat­edly said Clin­ton should be jailed for us­ing a per­sonal email sys­tem while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state. Democrats, on the other hand, have ac­cused Comey of politi­cis­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. – AP

PHOTO: AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump took to Twit­ter ahead of for­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey’s first in­ter­view on his book A Higher Loy­alty: Truth, Lies and Lead­er­ship.

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