Law­mak­ers tem­per tone af­ter Trump out­bursts

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARD­SON

Repub­li­can law­mak­ers did their best Sun­day to tem­per the ver­bal bar­rages Pres­i­dent Trump lobbed at for­mer FBI di­rec­tor James B. Comey and spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

In a se­ries of tweets on Sun­day morn­ing, the pres­i­dent ac­cused Mr. Comey of let­ting polls in­flu­ence the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server. Mr. Comey also lied to Congress, leaked clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion and wrote “phony” memos, the pres­i­dent said.

“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!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

In an­other tweet, Mr. Trump called the FBI di­rec­tor he fired last year a “Slime­ball!”

In an in­ter­view on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan,

Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, said he has no rea­son to be­lieve Mr. Comey isn’t a man of in­tegrity.

“As far as I know,” Mr. Ryan said. “I don’t know him very well. Two or three brief­ings is about what I had with James Comey.”

When pressed to as­sess Mr. Comey’s judgment, Mr. Ryan de­clined.

“I wouldn’t do that, be­cause you’re go­ing to help him sell books,” he said. “So I’ve met him two or three times in two or three brief­ings. I don’t re­ally know the guy. I’m not try­ing to be eva­sive. But what I don’t want to do is join some food fight, some book-sell­ing food fight. I don’t see any value in that.”

Asked about the pres­i­dent’s lan­guage, Mr. Ryan replied, “I don’t use words like that.”

Asked whether Mr. Trump’s rhetoric “un­der­mined law en­force­ment,” Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Repub­li­can, re­it­er­ated her sup­port for the Jus­tice De­part­ment.

“Well, I think that we do stand be­hind those men and women of our var­i­ous agen­cies,” Ms. Ernst said on “Meet the Press.” “Those that are truly non­par­ti­san and those that are work­ing for the good of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. I have not read James Comey’s book. I’m sure at some point it will come out, we’ll be able to view that.”

Mr. Comey is on a book tour, com­plete with mul­ti­ple me­dia in­ter­views, to pro­mote, “Higher Loy­alty: Truth, Lies, and Lead­er­ship,” an ac­count of his time in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In his first sit-down in­ter­view since be­ing fired as FBI di­rec­tor, Mr. Comey didn’t hold back his con­tempt for Mr. Trump.

Pros­ti­tutes, im­peach­ment and Putin — noth­ing was off lim­its in the one-hour ABC spe­cial that comes just days be­fore the book’s re­lease.

Mr. Comey called Mr. Trump a “stain” on ev­ery­one who comes into con­tact with him, a man who treats women “like they’re pieces of meat” and “morally un­fit to be pres­i­dent.”

“A per­son who sees moral equiv­a­lence in Char­lottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies con­stantly about mat­ters big and small and in­sists the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­lieve it, that per­son’s not fit to be pres­i­dent of the United States, on moral grounds,” Mr. Comey told Ge­orge Stephanopou­los, a for­mer key mem­ber of Bill Clin­ton’s cam­paign and ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In the spe­cial “20/20” episode, Mr. Comey re­counted a tu­mul­tuous two years in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server to Mr. Trump’s stun­ning White House vic­tory and the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

He said the sala­cious claims in the un­ver­i­fied Steele dossier, which was fi­nanced by the Clin­ton cam­paign, could be true.

“I hon­estly never thought these words would come out of my mouth,” he said, “but I don’t know whether the cur­rent pres­i­dent of the United States was with pros­ti­tutes pee­ing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s pos­si­ble, but I don’t know.”

Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Repub­li­can, called the book “sad.”

“Let’s not kid our­selves: James Comey now com­plains that Pres­i­dent Trump is ‘un­teth­ered from the truth,’” Mr. Gowdy said on “Fox News Sun­day.” “He’d still be the FBI di­rec­tor if he had his way. So all of his com­plaints about Pres­i­dent Trump, he was will­ing to put those aside so he could keep his job. The rea­son he wrote his book is be­cause he got fired, not be­cause he thinks Pres­i­dent Trump is ‘un­teth­ered from the truth,’ not be­cause Pres­i­dent Trump’s ties are too long, not be­cause he thinks he wears tan­ning-bed gog­gles. It’s be­cause he got fired.”

Mr. Gowdy was less in­clined to agree with the pres­i­dent’s crit­i­cisms of Mr. Mueller.

Mr. Trump sug­gested his at­tor­ney-client priv­i­lege was vi­o­lated when the FBI raided the apart­ment of his long­time per­sonal at­tor­ney, Michael Co­hen, and seized a trove of busi­ness doc­u­ments, emails and au­dio record­ings.

“At­tor­ney Client priv­i­lege is now a thing of the past,” the pres­i­dent tweeted. “I have many (too many!) lawyers and they are prob­a­bly won­der­ing when their of­fices, and even homes, are go­ing to be raided with ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing their phones and com­put­ers, taken. All lawyers are de­flated and con­cerned!”

Mr. Gowdy said Mr. Mueller acted ap­pro­pri­ately to re­fer the case to the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

“I don’t know what Mueller was sup­posed to do other than what he did,” Mr. Gowdy said. “When a pros­e­cu­tor comes in con­tact with in­for­ma­tion or ev­i­dence of a crime, what are you sup­posed to do other than to re­fer it to the ap­pro­pri­ate ju­ris­dic­tion?”

Also on Sun­day, for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta E. Lynch de­fended her han­dling of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s pri­vate email server amid crit­i­cism from Mr. Comey’s book.

In his book, Mr. Comey ac­cused Pres­i­dent Obama and Jus­tice De­part­ment ap­pointees of jeop­ar­diz­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s cred­i­bil­ity for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons.

Ac­cord­ing to the book, Ms. Lynch asked Mr. Comey to de­scribe the email in­ves­ti­ga­tion as a “mat­ter,” rather than an “in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” It re­minded him of the Clin­ton cam­paign’s at­tempt to em­ploy “a va­ri­ety of eu­phemisms to avoid us­ing the word ‘in­ves­ti­ga­tion,’” Mr. Comey wrote.

In a state­ment on Sun­day, Ms. Lynch said she “fought cor­rup­tion of all types” dur­ing her ten­ure at the Jus­tice De­part­ment, “whether by elected of­fi­cials from both sides of the aisle or within or­ga­ni­za­tions like FIFA.”

“The Jus­tice De­part­ment’s han­dling of the Clin­ton email in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der my lead­er­ship was no ex­cep­tion,” she said in the state­ment, which was first ob­tained by CNN.

James B. Comey

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