Thursday, June 08, 2017

James Comey testifies: Former FBI director says he helped reveal details of conversations with Trump

Former FBI director James B. Comey said Thursday he helped reveal details of his private conversations with President Trump because he thought doing so would spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the administration — a remarkable admission showing the degree of concern he had about both Russian interference with U.S. politics and his doubts about the Justice Department’s ability to probe such activity.

Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey described how details of his private memos about his one-on-one conversations came to light shortly after his dismissal.

“The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I’d better hope there are not tapes,” Comey said. He said he woke up on Monday thinking that if there are tapes, there might be corroboration of Comey’s account. Comey said he asked “a friend of mine to share” a memo he had written about his conversation with Trump “with a reporter.”

Comey said the memo was one he had written about his Oval Office conversation with Trump in which the president had expressed a desire that the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn be dropped.

He said the person he asked to share the information was “a good friend of mine” who is a professor at Columbia Law School. “I thought it might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

Asked by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) why he felt he had the authority to do that, Comey replied: “As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought it was very important to get it out.”

Comey said he used someone else to share the information because he was worried, with reporters camped out at his home, that giving the information to a reporter directly “would be like feeding seagulls at the beach.’’

The friend is Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor who confirmed his role but declined further comment. The reporter is Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, who declined to comment.

A special counsel was appointed — Robert S. Mueller III, who is a former colleague of Comey’s — and Comey has provided him with his memos, he testified Thursday.

Comey said he still has no idea whether the president actually has tapes of their conversations, but said, “I hope there are and I will consent to the release of them. . . . The president surely knows whether he taped me, and if he did my feelings aren’t hurt.’’

Comey also blasted the Trump administration for bad-mouthing the bureau and his leadership to justify his firing, saying, “Those were lies, plain and simple’’— a stark challenge to the president’s rationale for his ouster.

“I was fired because of the Russia investigation,’’ he said later in the hearing. “The endeavor to change the way the Russia investigation was conducted, that is a big deal’’ because it threatens the independence and integrity of the FBI, he said.

“I know I was fired because something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was putting pressure on [Trump],’’ he said. - Read More

James Comey testifies: Former FBI director says he helped reveal details of conversations with Trump - washingtonpost


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