I got an email about my post on Trump from an old friend Fred Block, a professor of sociology at UC Davis, and the author of pathbreaking books on the relationship between government and the economy. Here is what Fred wrote:
What a week. Who would imagine that Bannon would do the political equivalent of “suicide by cop” by calling Bob Kuttner? But I wanted to respond to your second childhood post about Trump.
Here’s one thing to consider as Steve Bannon leaves the White House. There’s hardly anyone in the close Trump orbit who hasn’t been tripped up in some way by the Russia investigation. There’s one big exception: Steve Bannon.
If you don’t have the twitter or breaking news wires spiked directly into your veins, for the last 10 or 20 minutes there have been a series of reports that Steve Bannon is out at the White House. First the news came from Drudge (who, whatever you think about him, is well-sourced on this front). The Times has now confirmed the story – but with a major caveat.
Every president has these industry councils like the ones we’ve been talking about in recent days. They range from meaningless to not terribly important. They’re mainly symbolic. With everything that’s happened in recent days, I don’t want to make it out like the decisions of a small number of CEOs is the biggest news. Still, we should recognize that it is entirely unprecedented to have a sitting president become so toxic that corporate America feels unable to publicly associate with him. That is totally, totally new territory.
Roy Moore–yes, THAT Roy Moore–has a plausible path to the U.S. Senate. Not a lock, but probably a lot more plausible than you realize. It’s going to be a barnburner in Alabama over the next six weeks, and Cam Joseph is on the case.
In response to Alice Ollstein’s piece last week on the Trump administration abandoning Obamacare outreach to Latinos, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is demanding a meeting with HHS Secretary Tom Price and urging HHS to make enrolling Latinos a priority.
One of the many privileges I have as the proprietor of TPM is that can let my writing be driven, at least in part, by impulse. Sometimes it’s like a fever and I have to and do write constantly. Other times, I don’t feel I have anything particular to say. And while I feel some self-imposed pressure, I can, to a degree, wait. In the last six days, we’ve had the horrifying events in Charlottesville followed by a series of self-inflicted injuries by the President, driven by his own rages, damaged psyche, grievance and inner illness. In the last 36 hours, almost everything seems to be falling apart. And yet, despite the fact that these are all issues which have been central to my interests and concerns for years, I’ve found myself with little to say.
When Donald Trump won the presidency last November, I believed that he would grow into the presidency. I attributed his incendiary views on Mexicans or his past promotion of birtherism to campaign theatrics. He was looking for applause (votes). When he became president, he would be humbled by his responsibility to govern the entire nation (rather than energizing the faithful) and his role as world leader. He would still press some of his policies on trade, immigration, taxes, and infrastructure, but would do so soberly and with a view toward winning majority support.
Several members of Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission will be very familiar to longtime TPM readers, but two in particular were major TPM characters during the heady days of Bush DOJ politicization, and on into the early years of the Obama administration, including one who was a driving force behind turning the New Black Panther incident in the 2008 election into a cause célèbre on the right. Tierney Sneed catches us up on what they’ve been up to since then, and what that bodes for where Trump’s new commission is headed. Don’t miss this.
Many of you will have seen this by now, but I didn’t get a chance to watch it in full until last night as we were waiting for Alabama returns to come in. If you missed it, it’s a segment Elle Reeve did for Vice on the horrible weekend in Charlottesville. It’s highly compelling TV and masterfully put together. Give a look:
No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. National Economic Council Chairman Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray.
It may depend on your definition of fun, but the GOP establishment, led by Donald Trump, trying to keep ex-Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore from winning the GOP primary runoff is going to make for an interesting next six weeks in Alabama. Cameron Joseph has the latest on tonight’s results.
Bob Mueller is reportedly most interested in two Trump mega-developments: Trump Soho in New York City and Trump Tower Toronto. The first has already gotten a fair amount of attention, the latter much less. Here’s our look at Trump Tower Toronto and its links to state-owned Russian bank Vnesheconombank. If Mueller’s interested, shouldn’t you be too? Here’s our report.
One of the things that all historians do is look for the earliest sources and those closest to events and facts we are seeking to understand. In some ways, this core imperative is more clear in ancient history or any period more than a few hundred years ago because historians of the distant past must cope with what is often the extreme scarcity of sources whereas modern historians often have the opposite problem: the sheer volume of source material that is impossible ever to fully digest and process. But the fundamental task is the same: recapturing the past on its own terms before subsequent events, needs, agendas and memory packaged them for use or simply distorted them for subsequent ages. This isn’t a matter of uncovering lies in most cases. We are constantly in the process of reshaping our history to serve our present needs. Indeed, we are constantly in the process of doing this in our own lives, reshaping our own personal story into a coherent backdrop to the person we are in this moment.
Debates over public memory and the valorization of history are frequently complicated and politically vexed. But on the margins, in extreme cases, they are often pretty straightforward. For any subject of controversy, the first question we should ask is: What is the person known for? How did they earn a place in our collective public remembrance?
James Fields, the man accused of killing one woman and injuring 19 others when he rammed counter-protesters with his car in Charlottesville, reportedly had a long history of physical assaults and threats against his disabled mother.
Over the last twenty four hours or so we’ve seen reports of numerous white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville who also show up in meet-and-greet type photos with members of Congress and candidates for office. Needless to say, they’re all Republicans. We’re looking into this. But I want to add some context and suggestions about what this means and what it doesn’t.
We finally have an unambiguous and firm denunciation from President Trump, only it’s against the CEO of Merck, Kenneth Frazier, after Frazier resigned from Trump’s manufacturing council over the President’s lack of response to Charlottesville.
The problem with the continued begging, ‘why won’t he denounce, why won’t he denounce’ is that at some point, maybe later today, President Trump will go before a podium and read off through gritted teeth a pro-forma denunciation of Nazis and it will seem to a lot of people like it means something when it doesn’t. He’s already made crystal clear where he stands here. The question is how we individually and as a country are going to deal with that fact, not how many more mulligans we’re going to give him. His neo-nazi supporters are truly over the moon that he’s steadfastly refusing to criticize them, even in the face of withering criticism and derision. They get the message. They’re ecstatic. Everyone who doesn’t see this, see that it is intentional, is getting played for chumps.
As his photo shot around the world, he told a reporter from a local tv station …
I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was. I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.
As we get underway today, a few thoughts on yesterday. In addition to going out of his way not to denounce the white supremacist and neo-nazi marchers yesterday, for those primed to hear it (which is the point) the President made a point of calling out and valorizing the marchers. In his at length on-camera comments, in addition to bromides and calling for people to love each other, Trump noted that we must “cherish our history.”
James M. Lindsay is senior vice president, director of studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he oversees the work of the more than six dozen fellows in the David Rockefeller Studies Program. He is a leading authority on the American foreign policymaking process and the domestic politics of American foreign policy.
The President has made a few more comments today. They follow the standard pattern: Make the absolute minimum criticism of white supremacists, neo-nazis and right wing extremists. From a few moments ago: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.” He explicitly equates the white supremacist/nazi marchers and the counter-protestors.
2:26 PM: This is from the AP wire at 2:00 PM, eyewitness reports from credentialed journalists on social media suggest substantially more people injured than in this copy …
Authorities are on the scene after a vehicle plowed into a group of people marching peacefully through downtown Charlottesville.
An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident, which occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters.
The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.
Here’s video of one angle of the incident …
Video of car hitting anti-racist protestors. Let there be no confusion: this was deliberate terrorism. My prayers with victims. Stay home. pic.twitter.com/MUOZs71Pf4
Here is a ‘better’ view of the incident. As you can see, two cars are moving very slowly through a crowd of counter-demonstrators when another cars comes at high speed behind them, hitting demonstrators and then plowing into the back of one of those two cars. That appears to have caused a chain reaction throwing the other two cars into other people on foot.
White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are the President’s domestic Putins. We’re not supposed to say in polite company that he’s on their side. But he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to criticize them. And he usually refuses to do so altogether. Today’s tweet in response to the incidents in Charlottesville is just the latest example.
Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday said that his father did speak to fired FBI Director James Comey about his preferred outcome for the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, though President Donald Trump flatly denied doing so.
“When I hear the Flynn comments, you and I know both know my father for a long time. When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it,” Trump Jr. told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro. “There’s no ‘Hey, I’m hoping. You and I are friends. Hey, I hope this happens, but you’ve got to do your job.’ That’s what he told Comey.”
On Friday, however, the President flatly denied making those remarks to Comey or pressuring him to drop the investigation into Flynn, implicitly or otherwise.
“You said you hoped the Flynn investigation he could let go,” ABC News’ Jon Karl asked Trump during a press conference.
“I didn’t say that,” Trump interrupted.
“So he lied about that?” Karl asked, referring to Comey.
“Well, I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “And I mean I will you tell you I didn’t say that.”
But, he added, “There would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today, but I did not say that.”
Trump Jr. on Saturday claimed that “everything that went on in the Comey testimony was basically ridiculous.”
“For this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo, ‘oh, I felt,’ he felt so threatened, he felt that — but he didn’t do anything!” Trump Jr. said.
Comey’s blockbuster testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, however, prompted Trump to offer to do the same.
Off message here for Trump Jr. Says his father did tell Comey he hoped he let the Flynn investigation go. His dad says that's a lie. pic.twitter.com/oOhaFgZY4a
Trump made similar remarks on Friday in another early morning tweet where he labeled Comey a “leaker,” referring to Comey’s decision to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press via a friend.
Comey revealed that decision during his testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he painted Trump as a liar and testified that Trump tried to obtain a loyalty pledge from the former FBI head and pushed him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump on Friday said he was “100 percent” willing to match Comey and testify under oath to contradict Comey’s testimony.
A spokesman for Attorney General Jeff Sessions late Thursday pushed back on several aspects of James Comey’s Senate testimony after the former FBI director raised new questions about Sessions’ actions before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
Comey’s testimony touched on Sessions at several points. He hinted that the FBI was aware of information that led the bureau to believe Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia probe weeks before he actually did so, and reportedly told senators in a subsequent closed session that Sessions may have met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on a third occasion that the attorney general had not disclosed.
The morning after former FBI Director James Comey delivered blockbuster testimony in the Senate in which he painted President Donald Trump as a liar and said that the President pressured him to quash a probe into Michael Flynn, Trump published a tweet declaring “vindication.”
Trump published his tweet shortly after 6 a.m. on Friday morning, during the time frame when he typically shares his thoughts on Twitter.
He referenced “false statements and lies,” appearing to accuse Comey of lying under oath.
Trump also labeled Comey a “leaker,” referencing Comey’s decision to get a friend to share the contents of memos about his conversations with Trump to the press, a revelation the former FBI director shared on Thursday during with the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
James Comey testified Thursday that he was “stunned” by requests President Donald Trump made to curtail federal investigations related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and thought the President’s remarks were of investigative interest— and it seems other senior FBI officials agree.
Though the ousted FBI director did not go as far as accusing Trump of attempting to obstruct justice, Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee offered the clearest indication yet that the President may already be under scrutiny for exactly that.
Part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s job is to “sort that out,” Comey said, dismissing questions from the assembled senators on whether he personally believed Trump obstructed justice. His testimony made the case for why he felt “sure” that Mueller would look into the multiple one-on-one conversations that Trump requested of his then-FBI director.
Comey says Trump asked him to quash the FBI’s investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn in one Feb. 14 exchange in the Oval Office. In a March 30 phone call, Comey says Trump requested that he lift the “cloud” that the Russia probe was casting over his administration.
“I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the President was an effort to obstruct,” Comey said of the Feb. 14 meeting. “I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.”
Importantly, Comey noted that Trump asked other senior officials, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to clear the room before initiating the conversation about the Flynn probe. He noted those officials hesitated before complying.
“Why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office?” Comey said. “That, to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact.”
Senior FBI officials briefed on that conversation said it was “of investigative interest” to determine the intent of Trump’s statements about Flynn, Comey testified.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe made similar remarks in separate testimony before the committee on Wednesday, telling Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) that it was “accurate” to assume that Comey’s private conversations with Trump either already are or are “likely to become part of a criminal investigation.”
These loaded comments apparently did not trouble Trump’s legal team or his defenders on Capitol Hill, who insisted that Comey’s testimony actually vindicated the President. They noted that, as Trump previously said, Comey confirmed that he informed Trump on three separate occasions that the President was not the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.
Republican lawmakers, the White House and Trump’s own family members also argued that the President was merely looking out for the interest of Flynn, a longtime adviser, and never explicitly ordered Comey to end any investigation. Those defenders neglected to mention that Comey testified that a senior FBI official cautioned him against telling Trump he was not a part of the federal investigation, because that person believed that “inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope.”
Whether Trump requested or ordered that Comey drop the investigation into Flynn is an irrelevant semantic distinction. As Comey testified, Trump asked him to swear “loyalty” and repeatedly brought up the status of his job in their conversations, leaving the former FBI director with the impression that his continued tenure at the bureau was “contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.”
He did not comply with Trump’s requests and was fired only four months into Trump’s term. By the President’s own admission, Comey was dismissed because of the “Russia thing.”
“I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,” Comey testified. “That is a very big deal.”
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee said Thursday that it was “hard to overstate the significance” of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), whose committee is leading its own investigation into Russian election meddling, wrote in a statement responding to Comey’s testimony that it “constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more.”
Read Schiff’s full statement below:
“Today, former FBI Director James Comey testified that the President of the United States demanded his loyalty, and directed him to drop a criminal investigation into his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Director Comey further testified that he believes President Trump ultimately fired him in order to alter the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this testimony.
“These discussions and others took place in one-on-one telephone conversions and meetings initiated by the President, or after the President cleared the room of other people. Director Comey wrote memoranda about his conversations with President Trump because he was worried that the President and his Administration would misrepresent them.
“In my view, this testimony constitutes evidence of an intention to interfere or potentially obstruct at least a portion of the Russia investigation, if not more. It will be important for Congress to obtain evidence to corroborate this testimony — the memoranda, certainly, as well as any tapes, if they exist. We should also interview those around Director Comey at the time of these contacts, to get their contemporaneous impressions of his conversations with the President and to supplement his testimony. Finally, we cannot accept the refusal of Directors Rogers and Coats to answer questions about whether they were asked to intervene with Comey on the Flynn case or any related matter. Similarly, we will need to ask Director Pompeo the same questions. These additional steps are vital to determining the ultimate significance of the President’s actions.”
A routine budget hearing in the Senate next week featuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions took on heightened importance following ousted FBI Director James Comey’s explosive Thursday testimony, which raised questions about what Sessions did both before and after he recused himself from the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
At least one member of the Appropriations Committee, Vice Chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), plans to use next week’s budget hearing as an opportunity to grill Sessions about Russia, Comey and President Donald Trump. “I have many important questions for him to answer,” he said in a statement.
During his feverishly-anticipated testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, ousted FBI Director James Comey made a host of major revelations about his handling of President Donald Trump and the federal investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election in the months before he was abruptly fired in May.
Importantly, Comey disclosed new information about actions he took when he became concerned about the Trump administration’s attempts to establish a “patronage” relationship with him and persuade him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn. Here’s an overview of some of the most significant moments from the hearing, where Comey revealed exactly what steps he took and why he took them.
Throughout his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly stressed the serious implications of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. He argued that the issue of Russian meddling it not about politics, but about the credibility of the American government.
Toward the beginning of the hearing, Comey said that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election and that Russian government officials were aware of the meddling.
He later stressed that Russian interference is very real, countering President Donald Trump’s constant dismissals of the Russia probe.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) asked Comey about the way Trump has discussed Russia’s election meddling, noting that the President has described Russian interference “as a hoax and as fake news.” In response, Comey stressed that there’s no doubt that the Russian government tried to interfere in the 2016 election and that the conclusion on Russia’s actions is “about as unfake as you can possibly get.”
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of the government. There is no fuzz on that,” Comey said.
“It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community — and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence — it’s not a close call,” he continued. “That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get and is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. Because this is about America, not about any particular party.”
Asked if it was a “hostile act by the Russian government,” Comey replied, “Yes.”
Later in his testimony, Comey emphasized that Russia’s attempt to meddle in the election is a threat to the United States and should rise above politics. He delivered a passionate monologue about just how grave a threat Russia’s meddling is to America.
“The reason this is such a big deal is we have this big, messy, wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time but nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for, except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful,” Comey said. “But we’re talking about a foreign government that — using technical intrusion, lots of other methods — tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.”
“That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally,” he continued. “They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. And so they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about. And they will be back, because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other — we remain that shining city on the hill and they don’t like it.”
The former FBI director also noted that Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2016 election was part of an ongoing effort targeted at the U.S.
“It’s a long-term practice of theirs. It stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
He stressed that the probe into Russian election meddling is also about prevention of future attacks, saying that Russia is not a threat to any one political party, but to the country as a whole.
Comey also addressed some of the details of the the FBI’s investigation into Russian hacking attempts. He said there was a “massive” effort to target government agencies and non-governmental groups, estimating that hundreds, possibly around 1,000, entities were targeted. He also said that the FBI never examined the hardware that was hacked at the Democratic National Committee’s, but that the FBI got the information they needed from a third party.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Thursday reflected ruefully on his questions to fired FBI Director James Comey during an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads,” McCain said in a statement. “Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games.”
Responding to fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer denied that Trump pressured Comey to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“[T]he President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including — the President never suggested that Mr. Comey quote, let Flynn go, close quote,” Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s lawyer, said at a press briefing Thursday, reading from prepared remarks.
He later addressed Comey’s written recollection that the President had asked for his “loyalty.”
“The President also never told Mr. Comey, quote, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty, close quote. He never said it in form, and he never said it in substance,” Kasowitz said.
But, Kasowitz hedged, “Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration.”
Kasowitz’s focus, it seemed, was on Comey’s admission that he had given his written recollection of a meeting with Trump to a friend of his, and had asked the friend to provide the New York Times with the information.
“[F]rom before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications,” Kasowitz said. “Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”
He added later: “We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated.”
Former FBI Director James Comey’s characteristically measured testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee communicated one fact clearly: he doesn’t think much of the current President of the United States.
Over and over during his three-hour-long appearance, Comey painted Donald Trump as a free-wheeling, habitually untruthful commander-in-chief with little respect for the independence of the FBI.
Trump himself has taken gleeful potshots at Comey, tweeting in the days after he removed Comey as FBI director that he had “lost the confidence” of both Republicans and Democratsand denigrated the “spirit and prestige of the FBI.” He also reportedly told senior Russian officials that Comey was “crazy, a real nut job,” who was insistent on pursuing an investigation into their interference in the 2016 election.
Now a private citizen, and knowing the eyes of Americans all over the country were on his testimony, Comey made his own personal views on Trump explicit.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Thursday said President Donald Trump should match fired FBI Director James Comey and testify under oath and in public.
Following Comey’s appearance in an open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Murphy released a statement saying it was “hard to overstate the impact” of Comey’s testimony.
“If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the President’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” Murphy said.
“It’s hard to overstate the impact of Jim Comey’s testimony today. For the first time, under oath and penalty of perjury, the former FBI Director testified that the president repeatedly pressed him for a pledge of loyalty, and asked him to drop the investigation into illegal activity of a White House staffer at the center of the Russia probe. A couple months later, after neither request was fulfilled, Trump fired him,” said Murphy. “That confirms that media reports aren’t ‘fake news’ – they’re very real and very concerning.”
“Every day, it seems like the walls are closing in on this president. What’s most important is that investigators in the Senate and at the Department of Justice get all the facts and find the truth. If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the president’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” added Murphy.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained fired FBI Director James Comey’s claim that President Donald Trump asked him to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by saying that “The President’s new at this.”
“He’s new to government. And so, he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” Ryan said, asked about Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee at his weekly press conference Thursday.
“You said the President is new at this, he’s not steeped in the long-running protocols,” one reporter followed up later in the briefing. “He has a staff. He has a White House counsel. Why is that an acceptable excuse for him?”
“I’m not saying it’s an acceptable excuse. It’s just my observation,” Ryan said.
“So there’s nothing — is this something that should be corrected?” the reporter asked.
“He’s new at government, and so therefore I think that he — he is learning as he goes,” Ryan responded.
Repeatedly, Ryan said that he now knew why Trump was “frustrated” by stories on Russian meddling.
Still, when pressed, he wouldn’t definitively say whether Trump’s behavior was appropriate.
“I’m not going to comment on these things,” he said, asked for his opinion on the matter. “Because these are all apart of these ongoing investigations and I’m not gonna prejudge this stuff, because what I don’t want to do is — in the middle of a House Intelligence Committee investigation, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, and now an independent counsel — is to speculate on the day-to-day intrigue of all of these issues.”
Sen. James Risch (R-ID) on Thursday cited a February report by the New York Times that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials before the 2016 election.
“That report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?” he asked.
“In the main, it was not true,” Comey replied. “The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it.”
Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Comey, “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?”
“Yes,” Comey replied.
“Did you have at the time that story was published any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?” Cotton pressed.
“That’s one I can’t answer sitting here,” Comey said.
He did not specify how much of the story was inaccurate, or which allegations were untrue.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is scheduled to respond to fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 1:30 p.m. ET. Watch live via NBC News.
Fired FBI Director James Comey on Thursday speculated that President Donald Trump came up short in April when he sought leverage to persuade Comey to publicly announce that Trump was not under investigation.
In his prepared testimony released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Trump told him in April: “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.”
Comey said he did not respond or ask Trump to clarify.
Fired FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he thinks he was fired to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI): “The President tweeted that ‘James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press.’ Was that rather unsubtle attempt to intimidate you from testifying and intimidate anyone else who seriously crosses his path of not doing it?”
Comey: “I’m not going to sit here and try to interpret the President’s tweets. To me its major impact, was as I said, it occurred to me in the middle of the night: Holy cow, there might be tapes. And if there are tapes, it’s not just my word against his on the direction to get rid of the Flynn investigation.”
June 8, 2017, 12:30 pm
Asked if she could find out if there's a taping system at White House, @SHSanders45 quips: "Sure, I'll try to look under the couches."
James Comey on Thursday described how Jeff Sessions reacted when he told him that he cannot be left alone with President Donald Trump.
Comey made the comments to Sessions after a Feb. 14 encounter in which he says Trump pressured him to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, the ousted national security adviser. Comey wrote in his prepared statement that Sessions did not offer a verbal reply to his plea. On Thursday, Comey described Sessions’ body language after he told the attorney general that he and Trump cannot be alone together.
Fired FBI Director James Comey confirmed that ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was under investigation for potentially misleading investigators.
When Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) first asked about Flynn, Comey noted “I don’t think I can talk about that in an open setting. And again, I’ve been out of government now about a month so I also don’t want to talk about things when it’s now somebody else’s responsibility but maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that.”