Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the US Senate Intelligence Committee was just posted to their official website. Comey’s prepared remarks are seven pages long and offer a comprehensive behind the scenes narrative account of the ex-FBI Director’s contacts with President Trump. (complete doc below)
Comey explained that the President cornered him alone after a February 14th, counter-terror briefing and asked him to shut down the Flynn investigation. He also shared intimate details of the awkward, one on one dinner between the men, where the President demanded loyalty from the FBI Director multiple times.
Two weeks later, Trump moved on Comey, cornering him after that Valentine’s Day meeting, trying to forcibly grab hold of his Flynn investigation with his executive powers, and end it:
I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.
I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.
Notably, Comey says that the memo he wrote about Trump’s demand to shut down the investigation is not classified or secret.
Regardless of the outcome of the Trump Russia investigations, this is damning evidence that President Donald Trump acted with intent to disrupt an investigation of his former National Security Advisor and campaign associate, the secret agent Gen. Mike Flynn.
Trump’s request to shut down the Flynn investigation is a political high crime, using his office to impede an investigation of his employee.
It’s an impeachable offense just as President Nixon’s effort to shut down the Watergate investigation.
Nixon’s crime was documented on tape by the Republican saying “uh huh” as his Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman described a campaign to recruit the CIA Director to influence the FBI to shut down Watergate.
During the fateful January 27th dinner alone together, in the Green Room of the White House, Trump demanded loyalty from the FBI Director over dinner in the way a jealous husband might after being cuckolded by his wife. America’s top cop would have none of it and refused to make any pledge of loyalty towards President Trump. Comey described the awkward moment:
A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner.
The FBI Director’s testimony also describes why they briefed Trump on the Christopher Steele dossier in what’s known as a “defensive briefing” before he took office. Notably, that isn’t’ the same as a national security briefing, but rather the kind of discussion an officer will have with the intimates of a person of interest.
The intent was to give the President-elect a chance to disrupt any plot against him by informing him on January 6th:
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified.
Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
Much of Comey’s remarks also confirm news reports including his request to AG Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump.
James Comey’s prepared testimony also explains the curiosity of why President Trump so adamantly claimed that the FBI Director told him three times that he wasn’t “personally” under investigation, that his presidential campaign is under investigation. He explained precisely why none of our federal agencies commented on the lack of a specifically personal investigation into Trump:
The FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.
Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony is damning for the Trump Administration and will likely become primary evidence in a Bill of Impeachment for the President obstructing a felony investigation into his former National Security Director.
There have been many questions about if Trump’s behavior this constitutes a criminal felony, but those are secondary questions to the problem that the President is vigorously abusing his political office and must be removed.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition