Some Good Questions the Former FBI Chief Prefers Not to AnswerPosted: June 7, 2017
The Private Jim Comey.
The media are pitching James Comey’s Thursday testimony as the biggest since Watergate, and the former FBI director may provide high Trump ian drama. Let’s hope Congress also challenges Mr. Comey on matters he’d rather not talk about.
The politically savvy Mr. Comey has a knack for speaking in congenial forums such as the clubby Senate Intelligence Committee he’ll address Thursday. By contrast he is refusing to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee—where he came under a grilling in May, days before he was fired—though there is no bar to him testifying more than once.
Circa News is also reporting (and we have confirmed) that Mr. Comey is refusing to answer seven questions sent to him in a letter from Judiciary on May 26. The bipartisan request is from Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, as well as the chairman and ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
The questions are aimed at discovering how the contents of Mr. Comey’s famous “memo” to himself came to be splashed across the press. This still private memo reportedly says President Trump asked Mr. Comey to back off an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and its contents surfaced in the New York Times not long after Mr. Comey was fired—courtesy of an unidentified Comey “associate.”
The Judiciary letter asks if Mr. Comey created other memos about interactions with Justice Department officials or Mr. Trump; if he shared the contents of his memos with people inside or outside the Justice Department; if he retained copies of the memos, and if so to turn them over to the committee.
We’re told Mr. Comey replied via email that he didn’t have to answer the questions because he is now a “private citizen.” But that same private citizen will be opining in front of a national TV audience before a committee investigating serious questions of law and intelligence … (read more)
…but probably won’t.
David Harsanyi writes: Almost a month after President Donald Trump fired him, former FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Comey will reportedly claim that the president asked for his “loyalty” but that he “demurred.” A keeper of meticulous notes, Comey will also likely testify that the president asked him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation only days after the national security advisor was fired. “I hope you can let this go,” the president purportedly told Comey. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
One imagines that special counsel Robert Mueller would not have agreed to allow Comey to testify publicly in the middle of ongoing investigation if the content of his testimony implicated the president in a criminal offense. Comey also won’t be able to shed light on the ongoing investigations. Still, there’s lots of anticipation out there. And there are a slew of questions Comey should answer.
For instance: As the former head of the FBI, do you believe your private conversation with the president rose to the level of obstruction of justice? Was it your impression that the president was speaking extemporaneously about an investigation, offering an opinion about its prospects and your actions, or do you believe he was demanding or insisting that the FBI drop the investigation into Michael Flynn?
Do you believe the president exhibited criminal intent?
Were there any other occasions in which the president brought up Flynn, or any other ongoing investigation of his campaign or administration officials? If so, what was the substance and tone of those conversations?
Did any of your superiors at the Justice Department ever do anything to inhibit your ability to investigate either Russian meddling or collusions charges? Did anyone in the Trump administration threaten to eliminate or constrain your funding, or stand in the way of any other material requests in conjunction with these investigations?
Did anyone hinder you in any way from gathering evidence about the administration or former campaign staff or associates of the president? Did any superiors ever threaten to fire you if you moved forward with the Russia meddling or collusion probes?
Do you believe your firing was an attempt to suppress the inquiry into Russian collusion charges? Did the firing change your view of the original conversation?
Why Didn’t You Quit If You Were Being Pressured?
If an FBI director feels his superiors are substantively interfering with an investigation, doesn’t he have a responsibility to resign or report the offense to his bosses? Does he have an ethical responsibility to make such an event known to the public?
In a May 8 oversight hearing, you were asked if an attorney general or senior officials at the Department of Justice had ever tried to halt an investigation. You said, quote: “Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something like that without an appropriate purpose.” What would the appropriate response be?
And if the president’s comments were disturbing enough to necessitate your speaking to a Senate Committee publicly today, why wasn’t it important enough to … (read more)