Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Robert Reich: Former FBI Director James Comey's Testimony He Will Give Tomorrow

From Robert Reich:

Here’s the testimony Comey will give tomorrow. It covers the period when Comey is director of the FBI, Trump is president, and, as Trump knows, Comey is in charge of an investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives.

As I count them, Comey relates 8 instances that could be used as evidence of Trump's intent to obstruct justice:

1. A January 27 dinner in the White House to which Trump has invited Comey. It's one-on-one between Comey and Trump. Comey senses it as a kind of job interview, even though Comey is already director of the FBI with a 10-year appointment. Trump tells Comey “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” to which Comey does not respond. At the end of the dinner, Trump tells Comey “I need loyalty.” Comey replies, “You will always get honesty from me.” Trump pauses and then says “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” Comey pauses, and says, “You will get that from me.”

2. A February 14 meeting in the Oval Office the day after Michael Flynn resigns. Trump has told others to leave, and he is alone with Comey. Trump tells Comey “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Trump then says Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians. “He is a good guy and has been through a lot,” adding “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey replies only that “he is a good guy.” Come does not say he will “let this go.”

3. A March 30 phone call from Trump to Comey at the FBI, in which Trump describes the Russia investigation as “a cloud” impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country, and asks Comey "what we can do to lift the cloud.”

4. During that same phone call, Trump asks Comey why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week – at which Comey had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

5. During the same call, Comey reminds Trump that the FBI is not now investigating him personally, at which point Trump repeatedly says “We need to get that fact out.” At end of the call, Trump again says he hopes Comey will find a way to get it out that the FBI is not investigating Trump.

6. During the same call, Trump abruptly turns the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because Comey had said McCabe was honorable, even though McCabe’s wife had made a campaign donation to Terry McAuliffe’s campaign, and McAuliffe was close to the Clintons.

7. An April 11 phone call from Trump to Comey, in which Trump asks Comey what Comey had done about Trump’s request that he “get out” word that Trump is not personally under investigation. Trump says the investigation is getting in the way of his ability to do his job. Comey suggests Trump deal with the Department of Justice.

8. Trump agrees to go through the Department of Justice, telling Comey it is “because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” Comey does not reply or ask Trump what he means by “that thing.”

On May 9, Trump fires Comey.

Even if none of the 8 instances conclusively proves obstruction of justice, together they show a clear pattern.

This doesn't even include Trump's interview with Lester Holt on NBC and Trump's meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office -- when in both instances he connects his firing of Comey with the Russian investigation.