February 24, 2020, 7:36 pm
Barack Obama attends a powhiri at Government House on March 22, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. It is the former US president's first visit to New Zealand, where he will be giving a a series of talks. Obama will also meet New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and former PM John Key during his visit.

There’s one point I want to reiterate or clarify about the posts from earlier today. We’ve gotten a lot of great emails agreeing and disagreeing with my basic points – I’ll be publishing several of them this evening. But some of those who on balance agree with me have asides like, ‘but here’s a case where I think we can criticize Obama.’

Let me be clear: this really isn’t about defending Obama.

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-Josh Marshall
February 24, 2020, 7:18 pm

TPM Reader JB on the road to Trumpism …

Interesting exchange of views among you and your readers on this subject. A couple of thoughts, for what they’re worth.

It’s probably useful for us to distinguish between things Obama did as President and events that took place while he was in office. The Great Recession was chief among the latter; it had a massive economic and political impact we are still trying to process over a decade later.

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-Josh Marshall
February 24, 2020, 2:18 pm

Soon after I published the post below about Obama and Trumpism, I got a note from my friend Josh Green, asking me to reread this 2018 piece and let him know what I thought. Here’s the link. I recommend it. As Josh describes it, it’s basically “the opposite of your headline stating Obama didn’t lead to Trump.”

This is a welcome interchange. Because it allows me to elaborate on, and hopefully refine, my thinking.

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-Josh Marshall
February 24, 2020, 12:25 pm

I want to respond to a point TPM Reader MR made below. He makes a few points. But there’s one in particular I want to drill in on because it’s deeply embedded in his argument and is widespread enough to constitute something like a conventional wisdom or even a truism for many. I’d summarize the argument as this: it’s not enough to turn the clock back to 2016 or go back to some pre-Trump ‘good old days’ because ‘that’s what got us Trump’.

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-Josh Marshall
February 24, 2020, 10:59 am

Since his Senate acquittal, President Trump has become increasingly paranoid about just how deep the “deep state” goes.

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-Nicole Lafond
February 23, 2020, 8:19 pm

TPM Reader CR takes a simple approach ..

I see this election in fairly straightforward terms:

Trump has basically had his average approval rating written in stone at about 43%, and his disapproval rating in the 52-54% range. Since, by virtually every survey, this looks to be a huge turnout election and not a “base” election, those percentages should be more accurate than if it was a base election.

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-Josh Marshall
February 23, 2020, 8:13 pm

TPM Reader MR says it’s not all about the presidential horse race …

I’d like to expand on an important disagreement I have with a portion of your recent Editor’s Blog post “Don’t go overboard with this”. It’s a disagreement that I have with you that spans several of your posts, and I think it’s summed up nicely here.

You wrote, “Given the enormous stakes, you don’t just want someone who has a shot. You want to be sure it’s the candidate with the best shot, to the extent you can ascertain that.“ I disagree with this statement vehemently. I suppose this is the liberal version of the old “Buckley Standard”. It’s something that I felt was cynical when he laid it out, and I find defeatist and shortsighted in this context.

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-Josh Marshall
February 23, 2020, 1:07 pm

While I was away I had a lot of time to reflect and pull together my thoughts on the Democratic primary race. As I’ve stated in the past I think there are major downside risks for the Democrats if they nominate Bernie Sanders. At the same time, I see a lot of pundits and not a few Democrats saying that Sanders is “unelectable”.

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-Josh Marshall
February 23, 2020, 10:28 am

Here’s another fascinating, sobering article in the Times tied to the COVID-19 outbreak. We know about the ongoing epidemic in China as well as new and fast-moving outbreaks in South Korea, Italy and Iran. So far there appears to be little if any domestic spread in the United States. This article looks beneath these headlines at the mix of federal authorities doing macro-planning, compiling lists of people returning from China and how they interact with a vast and decentralized array of local public health departments who are actually doing the monitoring.

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-Josh Marshall
February 22, 2020, 3:26 pm

Thanks to the team for all the great coverage while I got away for a few days with my family. I had a nice, relaxing time. So now back to the dumpster fire of American politics.

-Josh Marshall
February 21, 2020, 3:53 pm

Calling all political news junkies. Talking Points Memo is hiring an ambitious, New York-based newswriter to cover the epic political stories of our time.

Full posting after the jump.

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-David Taintor
February 21, 2020, 10:50 am

There’s got to be something going on behind the scenes here.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) has been a bulldog for President Trump from his perch on the House Judiciary Committee for months, most notably with his aggressive defense of the President throughout the impeachment inquiry. Trump rewarded his loyalty by floating to reporters Thursday night that the lawmakers is among the candidates he’s considering to become director of national intelligence.

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-Nicole Lafond
February 20, 2020, 4:41 pm

Reader RS has a different perspective from AC — “ultimately, the party should be allowed to pick” who wins the nomination, he writes.

Here’s part of his email.

As far as I understand it, the Democratic Party has always required a majority vote at the Convention to nominate a candidate. If that doesn’t occur on the first ballot, pledged delegates are released and the deliberations continue. That reflects the desire to try, as best as possible, to get a consensus nominee.

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-John Light
February 20, 2020, 4:39 pm

Readers have been writing in about the possibility that, by this summer, Democrats could be facing a contested convention — one in which Bernie Sanders is leading in delegates, but without enough to win the nomination outright.

Reader AC reflects on the angst that could result should the party step in and select another nominee.

I get that there are reasons to be worried about Bernie, but I think the worries about the other candidates, and especially a contested convention in which a Bernie clear lead doesn’t translate to a Bernie nomination, should be much more significant.

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-John Light
February 20, 2020, 12:09 pm

We’ll definitely have more on this soon, but the Justice Department ended up standing by all the sentence enhancement recommendations for Roger Stone that it made in the original sentencing memo it filed in the case, before dramatically repudiating that memo later.

What happened behind the scenes exactly? Why did Barr so badly damage DOJ for so little apparent gain? I’m not sure there are satisfying answers to these questions. More soon.

 

-David Kurtz
February 20, 2020, 12:02 pm

The Roger Stone sentencing hearing continues … and the judge appears to be edging closer to announcing the sentence. Follow our coverage here.

-David Kurtz
February 20, 2020, 9:50 am
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 20: Roger Stone, former adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse on February 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. Stone will be sentenced Thursday morning on his convictions for witness tampering and lying to Congress. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Longtime political operative and President Trump confidante Roger Stone will be sentenced this morning, bringing to a close a tumultuous and outright bizarre case that spun out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Or not.

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-Nicole Lafond
February 20, 2020, 9:34 am

Tierney Sneed is at the federal courthouse in DC for Roger Stone’s sentencing this morning. She’ll have the proceedings for you in real time here.

A few weeks ago, the sentencing of Roger Stone seemed like it would be an anti-climax, a colorful footnote to the historic Mueller probe. But now it has become ground zero for the epochal battle to protect the rule of law from the assault of Donald Trump.

How will that play out today?

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-David Kurtz
February 20, 2020, 8:41 am

The Atlantic published an article yesterday speaking to various Democrats about a primary campaign Bernie Sanders floated against Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Joe Biden referenced that would-be Sanders 2012 campaign in his post-debate comments last night. The senator ultimately didn’t run, and his aides say he was never serious about it.

But another episode in the article stood out.

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-John Light
February 19, 2020, 11:04 pm

A fascinating night with Michael Bloomberg on the stage for the first time and an inspired performance from Elizabeth Warren, but could the night have gone any better for Bernie Sanders?

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-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 10:20 pm

-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 10:01 pm

Elizabeth Warren spent the first hour of the debate mopping the floor with Michael Bloomberg.

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-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 9:43 pm

Just returning quickly to the Elizabeth Warren evisceration of Michael Bloomberg:

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-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 9:34 pm

Elizabeth Warren started the night off with a slashing attack on Michael Bloomberg from which he doesn’t yet seem to have recovered. But in her next go around, Warren launched broadsides against Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and to a lesser extent Sanders, over their health care plans. She followed up with another sharp line of attack on Buttigieg and Klobuchar.

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-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 9:13 pm

We’re 10 minutes in, and Bloomberg is getting rocked. Elizabeth Warren got it going with a withering fusillade on Bloomberg’s treatment of women. Quickly, everyone else piled on.

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-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 8:57 pm

TPM’s team is covering tonight’s super-consequential debate right here.

-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 3:16 pm

Michael Flynn pleaded guilty more than two years ago but has managed to forestall actually being sentenced. He fired his legal team, hired a new lawyer, is trying to withdraw his guilty plea – and now his new lawyer is coming out with a new book. All while Flynn’s sentencing has been delayed repeatedly.

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-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 2:24 pm

The 11th Circuit has swatted down the GOP-passed law in Florida that was designed to thwart Amendment 4, the ex-felon re-enfranchisement measure.

-David Kurtz
February 19, 2020, 1:58 pm

Tough to watch The Hill try to own up to being party to a historically significant misinformation campaign.

-David Kurtz
February 18, 2020, 10:23 am

The judge on Roger Stone’s case will hold a “scheduling” conference call with both Stone’s defense team and the prosecution within the hour, speaking publicly for the first time since the debacle over the Justice Department’s sentencing recommendation for Stone spiraled out of control early last week.

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-Nicole Lafond
x

ComeyWire

Trump Jr. Says Dad Asked Comey About Flynn Probe, Though He Denies Doing So

Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of The Trump Organization, discusses the expansion of Trump hotels, Monday, June 5, 2017, in New York.  The Trump Organization is launching a new mid-market hotel chain called "American Ideas." The president's son said the new chain will start with three hotels in Mississippi. The president's son says inspiration for the chain came from traveling through America during his father's presidential campaign. The company also says the first of dozens of hotels in another new Trump chain called Scion is under construction in Mississippi, too. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

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.

Trump Turns Ire At Leakers Against Comey, Suggests There Is More To Come

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis, speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump on Sunday suggested that there are more revelations to come from fired FBI Director James Comey, and questioned their legality.

“I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible,” Trump tweeted early Sunday morning. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!'”

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.

Jeff Sessions Pushes Back On Parts Of Comey’s Testimony

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, accompanied by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, left, talks to the media during the daily press briefing at the White House, Monday, March 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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.

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Trump Claims ‘Vindication’ After Comey Rakes Him Over Coals

President Donald Trump announces the approval of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project, Friday, March 24, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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.

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Is Trump Under Federal Scrutiny NOW? Comey Testimony Leaves Door Open

President Donald Trump meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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.”

Schiff: ‘Hard To Overstate The Significance’ Of Comey Testimony

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks after a closed meeting on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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.”

Dem Senator To Question Sessions Tuesday About Comey Allegations

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.

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Here’s What We Learned From James Comey’s Blockbuster Testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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.

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Comey Repeatedly Emphasized The Gravity Of Russia’s Election Meddling

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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.

McCain On His Comey Questions: Maybe I Shouldn’t Stay Up Late For Baseball

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.”

McCain said he wanted to find out whether Comey believed “that any of his interactions with the President rise to the level of obstruction of justice.”

“While I missed an opportunity in today’s hearing, I still believe this question is important, and I intend to submit it in writing to Mr. Comey for the record,” he said.

Trump’s Lawyer: President Didn’t Pressure Comey To Drop Flynn Probe

Marc Kasowitz personal attorney of President Donald Trump  makes a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017.    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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.”

Read Kasowitz’s full prepared remarks here.

Comey’s Testimony Casts President Trump As An Untrustworthy Liar

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 Democrats and 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.

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Dem Senator: Trump Should Follow Comey’s Example And Testify Under Oath

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.

Ryan ‘Not Saying It’s An Acceptable Excuse’ That Trump Is ‘New At This’

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.”

NY Times Looking Into Story Comey Agreed Was ‘Almost Completely Wrong’

The New York Times on Thursday said it is “looking into” reporting that fired FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee is inaccurate.

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.

Comey: Trump ‘Pulled Up Short’ When He Remembered I Didn’t Pledge Loyalty (VIDEO)

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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.

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Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Donald Trump, was in the room for Thursday’s hearing with former FBI Director James Comey.

Comey: I Was Fired In Order To Influence Probe Into Russian Election Meddling (VIDEO)

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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.”

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Comey: ‘I’m Not Going To Sit Here And Try To Interpret The President’s Tweets’

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.”

Watch below:

This Is How Comey Says Sessions Reacted To His Ask Not To Be Left Alone With POTUS (VIDEO)

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.

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Comey: Flynn Was Under Investigation For Potentially Misleading FBI (VIDEO)

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.”

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