June 28, 2017

Comey Testimony Raises New Questions About Jeff Sessions And Russia

10 June 2017, 07:34 | Grady King

Comey Testimony Raises New Questions About Jeff Sessions And Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during the Infrastructure Summit with Governors and Mayors at the White House in Washington U.S

"Plain and simple", said Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Senate Intelligence Committee, in opening remarks.

Though Republicans worked to discredit Comey and to blunt the impact of his testimony, the ex-director's statement deepened questions about the basis for his May 9 dismissal and about whether Trump's actions constituted obstruction of justice.

"I was glad to see Mr. Comey speak honestly and openly about his interactions with President Trump, despite the president's efforts to contradict and disparage him".

Trump's lawyer disputed that, saying the president never directed or suggested that Comey stop investigating anyone.

Trump may simply have wanted to make sure that Comey didn't believe the allegations.

"There might be corroboration of our conversation, there might be a tape", Comey said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan defended the president, telling reporters Thursday that Trump is "new at this", adding, "He's new to government, so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the White House".

The threat may have backfired spectacularly for Mr Trump as it led to Mr Comey organising a leak to the media of the President asking him to drop the investigation into Lt Gen Flynn.

The professor, Daniel Richman, confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that Comey was referring to him.

Specifically, according to Comey's testimony, after he met that day with Trump and others in the Oval Office, Trump ordered all the other officials out of the room - twice reiterating to lingerers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, that they were to leave.

The host also mocked Trump's attempts to sway Comey's "loyalty", including a White House dinner invitation described by Comey as a surprise "intimate gathering for two".

"The best thing said on this is nothing", said former NY mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Trump friend and former Justice Department official. The president told him, "I hope you can let this go", and he took it as more than a mere suggestion. Trump issued his warning online on May 12, three days after Comey was sacked and four days before the newspaper reported on the information in the memo, which was recounted by Comey associates.

Trump Jr. took issue with Comey's comments about whether the president was ordering him to drop the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The investigation has focused on possible collusion between Russian Federation and Trump campaign aides and the dissemination of fake news articles hostile to Hillary Clinton and of emails stolen from the accounts of Democratic Party workers during the presidential campaign. I thought I'd just offer some brief introductory remarks. The White House has denied any collusion with Moscow.

Back to the Trump-said, someone-else-said dynamic we go (unless Trump released the audio recording he once insinuated he keeps).

It was certainly important to hear Comey, from his own mouth in his own words, explain these titillating, Tinker-Tailor-Soldier-Spy-esq details of presidential intrigue.

Comey said he didn't know. That, in the Republicans' telling, should be taken as evidence that Trump had clean hands when it came to Russian interference.

His actual appearance Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee revealed a cagey, politically adept Washington insider who knows the merits of the long game.

Comey said he did not know if there are tapes of his conversations with Trump but said if so they should be made public.

Here are some of the key points from the hearing at Capitol Hill in Washington.

During nearly three hours of blockbuster sworn testimony to a Senate panel, Comey described himself as "stunned" by Trump's "very disturbing" and "very concerning" behavior during several private meetings.

"It distracts the administration and gives Republicans in the House and the Senate, many of whom have not been Trump supporters from the beginning, a reason to keep their distance and not get behind him", said Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducts political polling.

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