Schiff: Comey Statement ‘Confirms A Host Of Troubling Allegations’

Michael Bonfigli, The Christian Science Monitor

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that fired FBI Director James Comey’s prepared testimony “confirms a host of troubling allegations concerning the President’s conduct.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee, before which Comey will testify Thursday, released Comey’s written opening statement to the committee Wednesday.

Among other things, Comey confirms in the statement that Trump pressured him in a one-on-one meeting to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and that Trump asked him for his “loyalty.”

Trump also asked Comey if he wanted to keep his job, despite previously telling Comey that he wanted him to stay in the position. Comey said that exchange seemed to be, “at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.”

Comey also said Trump had “asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud,’” referring to the federal investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

Read Schiff’s response to Comey’s statement below:

“Former FBI Director Comey’s written testimony confirms a host of troubling allegations concerning the President’s conduct. Two stand out: The President sought to obtain a pledge of loyalty from the Director of the FBI during a conversation that centered on whether the Director would be able to keep his job. And second, the President effectively asked the Director to drop the investigation of his former National Security Advisor. Congress must now determine whether the Director’s refusal to do either – or any other motivation to interfere with or obstruct any part of the Russia investigation – led ultimately to Comey’s firing. 

“Director Comey was right to be concerned that the President was trying to form a patronage relationship with him, in which the Director would guarantee loyalty in exchange for job security. Had the Director agreed to do so would have been antithetical to the independence of his agency; that he did not, does not mitigate the unethical nature of the President’s request. The fact that this request, and the subsequent effort to have the Director drop the Flynn case, were made after the President excused everyone else from the room, strongly indicates that the President was more than aware of the illegitimacy of such demands. 

“Finally, it is not the Director’s job to lift the cloud of suspicion over the President’s conduct or that of his associates. The request by the President to do so – not unlike the allegations of analogous requests to Directors Rogers and Coats – represents yet another improper effort to coerce the intelligence agencies to do public relations for the White House and to undermine the independence and integrity of the intelligence community.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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