Acting Director Andrew McCabe of the FBI just briefed ten senior members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, informing them that they’re all prospective witnesses against President Trump in the investigation into whether or not the President obstructed justice.
Fired FBI Director James Comey took copious notes but an expose by VOX.com reveals it isn’t just a case of “he said-he said” based on Comey’s memos – in which nobody would trust Trump over Comey anyhow – but that another high ranking FBI official personally overheard a key phone call between the two men.
Two senior federal law enforcement officials explained that all of the FBI’s brass who were involved took detailed notes and carefully documented every discussion. Vox reports:
“What you are going to have is the potential for a powerful obstruction case,” a senior law enforcement official said. “You are going to have the [former] FBI director testify, and then the acting director, the chief of staff to the FBI director, the FBI’s general counsel, and then others, one right after another. This has never been the word of Trump against what [James Comey] has had to say. This is more like the Federal Bureau of Investigation versus Donald Trump.”
Among those who McCabe and other law enforcement officials have privately believed are potential witnesses are six of the highest-ranking officials of the agency: They include McCabe himself; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff; James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI; David Bowdich, who as the FBI’s associate director is the agency’s third-highest official; and Carl Ghattas, the head of the FBI’s national security division and a legal adviser to McCabe.
FBI General Counsel James Baker is known to have taken particularly detailed notes in his discussions with Comey and with others in the agency. Ironically, Trump’s own improper request that the FBI make a statement clearing his name in advance is what drew Baker deeper into the orbit of the case, as he argued for generally sticking to the agency’s guidelines of remaining silent about who is and is not being investigated.
However, the news that Comey’s former Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki can give direct testimony against Trump based on his personal witness to a phone conversation between the two men is likely to be explosive.
None of this would be possible without Trump’s disorganized style of management, which created the availability of a key corroborating eye witness to (un)Presidential tampering in the Russia investigation when he placed a surprise call to Comey during a meeting with his top aide Rybicki, according to Vox:
And in at least one previously unreported instance — that of a phone conversation between the president and Comey, during which Trump pressed Comey to say that Trump wasn’t personally under investigation — Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff, was present for the entirety of the phone call.
Trump had unexpectedly called Comey while Comey was in a meeting with Rybicki. As Trump and the then-FBI director spoke, Rybicki stayed put and listened to the entirety of Comey’s side of the conversation, according to Comey’s testimony to Congress and a senior federal law enforcement official.
In addition, Comey often emailed Rybicki accounts of his troublesome discussions with Trump about the Russia investigation — if not immediately after, sometimes the same day, according to a senior federal law enforcement official.
Republicans have worked tirelessly to sell the bunk idea that the FBI Director would for some reason keep to himself all of President Trump’s transparent, inappropriate attempts to influence his investigation.
The reality of the situation is that the FBI works as a team; they document conversations and deliberations carefully at all times because that’s how they build many of their cases with testimony and decisions are often made by consensus.
Furthermore, a very credible, recently unearthed legal memo – ordered by the Republicans who ran the Whitewater investigation – says that it’s entirely permissible to file a criminal indictment against a sitting President, and to try, and to convict that President if the facts permit, regardless of impeachment proceedings taking place.
President Trump can’t possibly expect a criminal jury to believe his shoddy word above the FBI’s entire top brass and it’s beginning to look more and more like we will witness exactly that.
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