James Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), will not accuse President Donald J. Trump of obstruction of justice. Democrats and Big Media were hoping to use his testimony to focus on the private meetings the former FBI director had with the President Trump, during which reporting claimed he was asked to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
ABC News, citing sources, reported that Mr. Comey will not agree during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Trump’s comments amounted to obstruction of justice. Mr. Comey is slated to testify Thursday after he was cleared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, another former FBI director now overseeing the investigation into all things Russia.
But the New York Times quoted the president in the memo as saying he “hoped” Lt. Gen. Flynn wasn’t prosecuted because he was a “good man,” to which Comey replied he agreed he was a good man. Democrats cited the report as proof of obstruction of justice, something legal experts mocked.
“Those who don’t know the first thing about the law immediately began hurling words like ‘obstruction of justice’, ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ and ‘impeachment’,” Gregg Jarrett, a former defense attorney who now works as a Fox News Anchor, wrote at the time in a piece entitled “Comey’s revenge is a gun without powder.”
Jarrett also said that Mr. Comey put himself in a box because, if he felt at the time the conversation rose to obstruction, he was obligated to report it. Further, Mr. Comey said on May 3 that neither President Trump nor anyone from the White House ever tried to hinder an FBI investigation.
“Under the law, Comey is required to immediately inform the Department of Justice of any attempt to obstruct justice by any person, even the President of the United States,” Jarret noted. “Failure to do so would result in criminal charges against Comey. (18 USC 4 and 28 USC 1361) He would also, upon sufficient proof, lose his license to practice law.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that he worries the public hearing will turn into a “hit job” on the president, adding that a “one-sided” hearing would be the worst possible outcome for the country.
“Here’s what I worry about: that he’ll just focus on his conversations with the president and not answer any other questions because of the investigation,” he said during an interview on Thursday. “That would be a hit job on President Trump and I hope this hearing doesn’t become a hit job on President Trump.”
(UPDATE: ABC News was wrong. Comey, under the impression President Trump might have taped their conversation, did admit that he told the President he wasn’t under investigation on multiple occasions.)
The former FBI director will also dispute President Trump’s claim that he told him on three separate occasions that he was not the target of an investigation.
Sen. Graham also said, while he likes Mr. Comey, he believes he is just “probably upset” about getting firing by President Trump.
On the allegations of collusion, Sen. Graham said he has seen no evidence anyone from the Trump campaign worked with Russian officials to influence the election. He emphasized there was “zero evidence that Trump himself” took any such action and Mr. Comey should be honest with the American people.
“I don’t believe he is,” he said when asked if the president was the target of an investigation. “There’s a cloud over the presidency that needs to be removed if the facts justify it.”
Worth noting, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also called on the FBI to end the “wild speculation” surrounding President Trump and criminal investigations. In public statements and tweets, Sen. Grassley has insinuated Mr. Comey also told him that the president was not the target of the FBI probe.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, backed the chairman up and has repeatedly stated that she has not seen any evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign or President Trump with Russia.
At the White House on Tuesday, while meeting with congressional leaders to move forward his legislative agenda for the remainder of the year, President Trump was asked about the hearing.
“I wish him luck,” the President said.