Scathing Comey in­ter­view pro­vokes war of words

The Detroit News - - Trump Administration - BY CATHER­INE LUCEY AND ERIC TUCKER As­so­ci­ated Press

Wash­ing­ton – In his scathing ap­praisal of the man who fired him as FBI chief, James Comey cited “some ev­i­dence of ob­struc­tion of jus­tice” in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ac­tions and spec­u­lated that Rus­sians might have dirt on the pres­i­dent. Trump struck back, brand­ing Comey a crim­i­nal.

Their war of words es­ca­lated Mon­day af­ter Comey, in an ABC in­ter­view broad­cast the night be­fore, la­beled Trump “mo­rally un­fit” for of­fice.

Trump tweeted that Comey drafted an ex­on­er­a­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton long be­fore he talked to her as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her email prac­tices. He la­beled Comey “dis­grun­tled” and ac­cused him and al­lies of hav­ing “com­mit­ted many crimes.” For his part, Comey has said that nine or 10 months into the Clin­ton probe, he had a “clear pic­ture” where it was go­ing and it’s com­mon to draft state­ments be­fore an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

Comey’s re­marks, cou­pled with the re­lease of his forth­com­ing book, of­fer his ver­sion of events sur­round­ing his fir­ing and the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling and Clin­ton’s email prac­tices. Sev­eral of the episodes he de­scribes in de­tail, in­clud­ing a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion about for­mer White House na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn, are cen­tral to spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion and his rec­ol­lec­tions are pre­sum­ably valu­able for pros­e­cu­tors ex­am­in­ing whether the pres­i­dent’s ac­tions con­sti­tute ob­struc­tion of jus­tice.

The ex-FBI di­rec­tor, who un­til his fir­ing in May led an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble ties be­tween Rus­sia and the Trump cam­paign, ac­knowl­edged that it was “stun­ning” to think that Rus­sia could have dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about a U.S. pres­i­dent. But he said that in Trump’s case, he could not dis­count the pos­si­bil­ity that the pres­i­dent had been com­pro­mised.

“These are more words I never thought I’d ut­ter about a pres­i­dent of the United States, but it’s pos­si­ble,” Comey told ABC News’ chief an­chor Ge­orge Stephanopou­los.

He also an­swered “pos­si­bly” when asked if the pres­i­dent was at­tempt­ing to ob­struct jus­tice when he cleared the Oval Of­fice of other of­fi­cials in Fe­bru­ary 2017 be­fore en­cour­ag­ing him to close the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Flynn, who by that point was sus­pected of ly­ing to the FBI about his Rus­sian con­tacts.

Trump on Sun­day re­jected Comey’s as­ser­tion that Trump had sought his loy­alty at a Jan­uary 2017 din­ner, say­ing “I hardly even knew this guy. Just an­other of his many lies.” He also sug­gested Comey should be im­pris­oned, tweet­ing, “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.

The pres­i­dent be­gan as­sail­ing Comey even be­fore the in­ter­view came out.

He seized on an ex­cerpt shown Satur­day in which Comey said his be­lief that Clin­ton would beat Trump in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was prob­a­bly a fac­tor in his de­ci­sion to dis­close the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her emails. Comey, Trump tweeted, “was mak­ing de­ci­sions based on the fact that he thought she was go­ing to win, and he wanted a job. Slime­ball!”



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