Comey: Russia hold on Trump possible
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
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.