Trump le­gal team col­lects ev­i­dence of Comey lies to Congress

Names more af­ter Co­hen guilty plea

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

For­mer and cur­rent mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Trump’s le­gal team have com­piled re­search to make the case that for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey mis­led Congress in his tes­ti­mony and is not a re­li­able wit­ness for spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

The lawyers last year tried to per­suade Mr. Mueller to in­ves­ti­gate Mr. Comey, his for­mer col­league, to no avail.

The Trump-Comey war took on new di­men­sions last week as Mr. Mueller won a guilty plea from for­mer Trump at­tor­ney Michael Co­hen, who ad­mit­ted to ly­ing to the Se­nate Select Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence about a pro­posed elec­tion-year Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion Moscow ho­tel deal.

“The Co­hen plea of ly­ing to Congress by the spe­cial coun­sel raises the very se­ri­ous ques­tion as to why the spe­cial coun­sel has re­fused to in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute the false state­ments and tes­ti­mony of James Comey, the main ac­cuser of the pres­i­dent, be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary and in­tel com­mit­tees,” for­mer Trump at­tor­ney John Dowd told The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Mr. Dowd and his col­leagues filed a com­plaint with the Jus­tice Depart­ment and Mr. Mueller last year. It says, in part, that Mr. Comey was dis­hon­est in May 2017 when he said he never took steps for FBI sur­ro­gates to leak sto­ries about Mr. Trump to the news me­dia.

The Wash­ing­ton Times showed the com­plaints to Mr. Comey’s le­gal team, which didn’t re­spond.

In a court fil­ing to quash a Repub­li­can con­gres­sional sub­poena, Mr. Comey re­jected as un­true a charge from Mr. Trump that he had leaked clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

Trump sup­port­ers say that if Mr. Mueller can tar­get Mr. Co­hen for ly­ing, then why doesn’t the Jus­tice Depart­ment go af­ter oth­ers? They men­tion not only Mr. Comey but also James R. Clap­per, for­mer head of na­tional in­tel­li­gence; Demo­cratic at­tor­ney Michael Ave­natti; dossier cre­ator Christo­pher Steele; and his han­dler, Fu­sion GPS founder Glenn R. Simp­son.

Of the four in ad­di­tion to Mr. Comey, three in­volve pub­lic charges from Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can. They are:

Mr. Clap­per: The Barack Obama ap­pointee tes­ti­fied be­fore the Se­nate Select Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence in 2013 that the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency doesn’t “wit­tingly” spy on Amer­i­cans in the United States.

The tes­ti­mony was “clearly er­ro­neous,” as he ad­mit­ted later in a let­ter. The NSA col­lects bulk do­mes­tic phone records and some in­ter­net com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

In re­tire­ment, Mr. Clap­per is a prime Trump critic.

“I re­ally ques­tion his abil­ity to — his fit­ness to be — in this of­fice,” he said on CNN. “I worry about, frankly, ac­cess to the nu­clear codes.”

Mr. Ave­natti: A fierce Trump critic, the lawyer pre­sented sworn state­ments to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on be­half of Julie Swet­nick, who made a se­ries of sen­sa­tional gang rape charges against then-U.S. Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett M. Ka­vanaugh. She later re­tracted some of the charges.

Mr. Grass­ley sent a crim­i­nal re­fer­ral to the Jus­tice Depart­ment ac­cus­ing Mr. Ave­natti of a con­spir­acy to sub­mit false state­ments.

Mr. Ave­natti, who also rep­re­sents porn ac­tress Stormy Daniels in her claim of hav­ing had an af­fair with Mr. Trump, dis­missed Mr. Grass­ley as “in­com­pe­tent” and wel­comed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mr. Steele: The for­mer Bri­tish spy was paid by the Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign and the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump. He re­lied on a num­ber of Krem­lin sources to level charges for a dossier in his ef­fort to de­stroy the Trump cam­paign.

Mr. Grass­ley sent a crim­i­nal re­fer­ral to the Jus­tice Depart­ment, say­ing Mr. Steele lied to the FBI dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign by telling agents he had not spo­ken to the news me­dia when in fact he had. Based on his word, the FBI re­lied on a Ya­hoo news story to bol­ster a wire­tap war­rant only to learn later that Mr. Steele was its source.

Mr. Simp­son: Mr. Grass­ley sent a let­ter to a Demo­cratic sen­a­tor say­ing Mr. Simp­son’s com­mit­tee tes­ti­mony con­flicted with an FBI re­port. Mr. Simp­son tes­ti­fied that he had no anti-Trump clients af­ter the Novem­ber 2016 elec­tion.

But for­mer Se­nate Demo­cratic aide Daniel Jones, who, like Mr. Simp­son, is an op­po­si­tion re­search spe­cial­ist, told the FBI last year that he had raised $50 mil­lion from donors to in­ves­ti­gate Mr. Trump and hired Mr. Simp­son’s firm.

Trump sup­port­ers save their most in­tense wrath for Mr. Comey, who has emerged as a chief Trump ac­cuser in a mem­oir and in tes­ti­mony since the pres­i­dent fired him in May 2017.

As FBI di­rec­tor, Mr. Comey tes­ti­fied that he had never leaked in­for­ma­tion to the press or ar­ranged for sur­ro­gates to leak.

Af­ter his fir­ing, he or­ches­trated an elab­o­rate leak of his memos for the record to The New York Times, us­ing a mid­dle­man. They rep­re­sented his same-day notes of his one-on-one meet­ings with the pres­i­dent. Among the charges, he ac­cused Mr. Trump of try­ing to sti­fle an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn.

Mr. Comey said he leaked the memos to force the ap­point­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel, which hap­pened days later. Mr. Comey then be­came a wit­ness against Mr. Trump for Mr. Mueller, his pre­de­ces­sor as FBI di­rec­tor. As deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral, Mr. Comey worked closely with Mr. Mueller dur­ing the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion.

In June 2017, Marc E. Ka­sowitz of New York, then a Trump at­tor­ney, sent a hand­de­liv­ered, 15-page let­ter to Mr. Mueller list­ing a num­ber of com­plaints against Mr. Comey and ask­ing for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The let­ter’s pur­pose was to dis­par­age Mr. Comey as a cred­i­ble wit­ness.

One let­ter topic was “Comey’s Pat­tern of In­ac­cu­rate and In­com­plete Tes­ti­mony.”

“Mr. Comey has ex­hib­ited a pat­tern of ex­ag­ger­ated, em­bel­lished and ma­te­ri­ally in­com­plete and self-serv­ing tes­ti­mony that crip­ples the cred­i­bil­ity of his ac­counts on mat­ters large and small,” Mr. Ka­sowitz wrote.

‘Un­law­ful con­duct’

Mr. Ka­sowitz said Mr. Comey re­counted his Trump meet­ings with “sur­ro­gates” at the FBI in March 2017. Two days af­ter he was fired, sur­ro­gates “as he and they have pre­vi­ously planned to do” leaked de­tails to The New York Times about a pri­vate din­ner Mr. Comey had with the pres­i­dent the pre­vi­ous Jan­uary, Mr. Ka­sowitz said. The story matched Mr. Comey’s later de­scrip­tion in con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony.

As to Mr. Comey’s May 2017 Se­nate tes­ti­mony that he never fa­cil­i­tated Trump leaks while di­rec­tor, Mr. Ka­sowitz wrote: “While Mr. Comey’s tes­ti­mony might have been tech­ni­cally cor­rect, it was plainly in­com­plete and mis­lead­ing to not have dis­closed that he had, in fact, leaked this in­for­ma­tion to sur­ro­gates for the ob­vi­ous pur­pose of leak­ing it in the fu­ture in the event he were re­moved as FBI di­rec­tor.”

Mr. Ka­sowitz sur­mised that Mr. Comey’s sur­ro­gates must have leaked de­tails of the Trump Tower meet­ing with the pres­i­den­t­elect since the only par­tic­i­pants were Mr. Comey and Mr. Trump.

Mr. Dowd told The Wash­ing­ton Times that Mr. Mueller in­formed him in Au­gust 2017 that there would be no in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Mr. Comey.

Mr. Dowd then sent a let­ter to Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, who ap­pointed Mr. Mueller. The let­ter’s sub­ject line was “Re­quest for Fed­eral Grand Jury In­ves­ti­ga­tion of For­mer Di­rec­tor James B. Comey.”

“It is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling that it was Mr. Comey’s plainly de­lib­er­ate, un­law­ful con­duct and false con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony which pre­cip­i­tated your ap­point­ment of Spe­cial Coun­sel Mueller,” Mr. Dowd wrote. “In­deed, Mr. Comey pub­licly bragged about it.”

Mr. Rosen­stein replied via an aide that the Jus­tice Depart­ment doesn’t con­firm or deny in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

‘Er­ror in judg­ment’

It is not only Mr. Trump’s le­gal team com­plain­ing about Mr. Comey’s con­duct.

Corey R. Le­wandowski, for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ager, tweeted: “U.S. judge delays rul­ing on ex-FBI di­rec­tor’s re­quest to quash Repub­li­can sub­poena. Why doesn’t Lyon’ Jim want to tes­tify? He has lied re­peat­edly to Congress. When will he be pros­e­cuted?”

Mr. Comey last week lashed out at House Repub­li­cans in a mo­tion filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court to quash their sub­poena.

A Repub­li­can-led House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form task force wanted him to tes­tify be­hind closed doors on how the FBI launched and con­ducted its Trump-Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Mr. Comey said that he will tes­tify as re­quested. Repub­li­cans said a pri­vate ses­sion is ap­pro­pri­ate so he can an­swer ques­tions deal­ing with clas­si­fied mat­ters.

In their court fil­ing, Mr. Comey’s at­tor­neys re­ferred to “a poi­sonous com­bi­na­tion of pres­i­den­tial tweets and the se­lec­tive leak­ing that has be­come stan­dard prac­tice for the joint com­mit­tees.”

“The pub­lic record shows mem­bers of the Joint Com­mit­tee leak­ing what suits them and main­tain­ing the se­crecy only of what does not,” they said. Repub­li­cans “plan to make him the next vic­tim of their unau­tho­rized and abu­sive tac­tics,” the fil­ing said.

In the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence, the FBI re­lied on the Demo­crat-fi­nanced dossier writ­ten by Mr. Steele.

Repub­li­cans say Mr. Steele un­leashed a num­ber of bo­gus charges against Mr. Trump and his aides based on dis­in­for­ma­tion from the Krem­lin.

Jus­tice Depart­ment In­spec­tor Gen­eral Michael Horowitz is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the FBI’s Rus­sia probe and par­tic­u­larly the For­eign In­tel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act wire­tap on Trump cam­paign vol­un­teer Carter Page. The FBI’s war­rant ap­pli­ca­tions to a judge were based largely on the un­ver­i­fied dossier.

The Horowitz re­port on the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mrs. Clin­ton’s emails found Mr. Comey guilty of in­sub­or­di­na­tion for hid­ing from Jus­tice of­fi­cials his plans to uni­lat­er­ally clear the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

Mr. Comey also com­mit­ted “a se­ri­ous er­ror in judg­ment” by send­ing a let­ter to Congress with­out Jus­tice ap­proval, Mr. Horowitz said. The in­spec­tor gen­eral also said Mr. Comey vi­o­lated Jus­tice guide­lines by us­ing his per­sonal email ac­count to con­duct FBI busi­ness.

Co­hen, Mr. Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney for more than a decade and now a main ad­ver­sary, pleaded guilty last week to pro­vid­ing the wrong date for when talks be­tween the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion and Rus­sians ended on build­ing a ho­tel in Moscow.

He told a Se­nate com­mit­tee that the talks ended in Jan­uary 2016. In fact, talks con­tin­ued un­til June as Mr. Trump was about to se­cure the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion. Co­hen lied to avoid the nar­ra­tive that Mr. Trump was ne­go­ti­at­ing with the Rus­sians deep into the cam­paign. At the same time, Rus­sia had hacked Demo­cratic com­put­ers and was pre­par­ing to re­lease stolen emails via Wik­iLeaks.

Par­tic­i­pants have said the idea for a Moscow ho­tel was started by Co­hen’s long­time friend, Rus­sia-born real es­tate de­vel­oper Felix Sater. Mr. Trump has said the ho­tel talks were le­gal but that he took part only spar­ingly.

Mr. Trump and his chief aides have de­nied Mr. Steele’s al­le­ga­tions that they en­gaged in an “ex­ten­sive con­spir­acy” to hack com­put­ers and troll on so­cial me­dia. No Trump as­so­ciate has been charged with that of­fense.

James B. Comey

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