Comey spec­u­lates Rus­sians may have dam­ag­ing info on Trump

The Republican Herald - - NATION / WORLD - by CatHEr­iNE lUCEy aNd EriC tUCKEr

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, la­belled 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 la­belled 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 ac­knowl­edged he had no proof that Rus­sia has dirt on Trump: “I think it’s pos­si­ble. I don’t know.”

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. The re­tired gen­eral pleaded guilty in De­cem­ber and is now co­op­er­at­ing with Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Comey also said he be­lieved Trump treated women like “pieces of meat.”

“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,” Comey said.

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