Here’s how James Comey can wiggle out of his May 3 testimony
Clintonian: What you thought you heard Comey say about lack of interference was not what he actually said.
I was a guest today on Newsmax TV – America Talks Live with Bill Tucker. The main topic was James Comey’s upcoming testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
I was able to clear up a common misconception about Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Many people — on Twitter and in the punditry — believe that Comey stated on May 3 there had been no attempts to stop his investigation. If Comey gave such testimony before the Senate, it would be consistent with the testimony of Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, on May 19 that there had been no “political interference” in the investigation (emphasis added):
I welcome the opportunity to discuss my role in the removal of FBI Director James Comey, although I know you understand that I will not discuss the special counsel’s ongoing investigation. Most importantly, I want to emphasize my unshakeable commitment to protecting the integrity of every federal criminal investigation. There never has been, and never will be, any political interference in any matter under my supervision in the United States Department of Justice.
But, there are reports that Comey will testify next week that Trump supposedly asked him to halt the investigation of Michael Flynn, engaged in some as yet unspecified uncomfortable interference, and that Comey wrote a memo or memos to the file documenting such conversations. (Note: Those reports do not attribute those words directly to Comey, but rather, to people who supposedly know what he will say.)
So would Comey’s expected testimony really contradict his May 3 testimony?
Here’s the video of the testimony exchange with Senator Mazie Hirono:
Most people listening to the exchange would think Comey denied any attempt to stop the investigation. That’s the natural implication of his words.
But read the transcript carefully, focused on the wording I’ve underlined:
HIRONO: Yes. And so speaking of the independence of not just the judiciary but I’d like you to clarify the FBI’s independence from the DOJ apparatus. Can the FBI conduct an investigation independent from the department of Justice. Or does the FBI have to disclose all it’s investigations to the DOJ? And does it have to get the Attorney General’s consent?
COMEY: Well we work with the Department of Justice, whether that’s main justice or U.S. attorney’s offices on all of our investigations.
And so we work with them and so in a legal sense we’re not independent of the department of justice. We are spiritually, culturally pretty independent group and that’s the way you would want tit. But yes, we work with the Department of Justice on all of our investigations.
HIRONO: So if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?
COMEY: In theory yes.
HIRONO: Has it happened?
COMEY: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.
You may have thought you heard Comey say no one ever had tried to halt or interfere in an FBI investigation (which would include Donald Trump), but what he said was that neither the Attorney General nor senior officials at DOJ had done so.
I explained all this in my Newsmax interview:
“It’s going to be parsed, and I’ll tell you exactly how he’s going to do it, and you’re hearing it heard first. If you go back and you read that Senate testimony … on May 3rd, and you look at what the question was, the question wasn’t whether anybody had ever done it [interfered or asked for a halt], the question was whether anyone from the Department of Justice had interfered or told him to stop the investigation.
So he is going to say that the Department of Justice never did it, but Donald Trump did, and that’s how he’s going to get around that testimony. And that’s my prediction, and nobody sees it coming, except the people who are watching right now.”
“He testified at a congressional hearing in late March, and he said nothing about it whatsoever. And then he testified … in early May and was asked the question. And so is he really going to come in and essentially pull a Bill Clinton, and argue over what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is? And he’s going to say, well when you asked me that question whether anybody from Department of Justice had ever asked me to halt my investigation, I said ‘no,’ but I didn’t volunteer to you that the President had done it — that’s just not very credible but that’s the wiggle room he has if you want a literal interpretation and reading of the question asked and the question he answered. So I think it’s a credibility issue, I don’t think it’s a legal issue.
And I think he is probably primed to go, this is going to be his day in the spotlight, and I think he is going to unload, to the extent he can and to the extent Robert Mueller hasn’t told him ‘don’t go there.’ He’s going to unload on Trump big league.”
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I understand what you’re saying – Comey answered the question in a narrower scope than we heard it. However if Comey actually felt that Trump inappropriately badgered him, tried to stop him from performing his job, shouldn’t he have surfaced that to DOJ? His memo is beginning to look like his “stained blue dress.”
Well, then he’s just confessed to breaking the law which requires him to report it immediately.
Has anyone checked to see if Comey isn’t Monica with a sex change operation?
If he indeed ‘unloads’ and says he considered Trump’s comments to be direct, unvarnished interference, he has some further ‘splainin to do, dontcha think?
Of course, the ‘unloading’ will be the headline – with our media there’s no escaping that.
Comey is a crook. He has been a crook his entire career. Comey will lie, just like he always has.
Here is the Comey story, beginning to end. And the truth of what President Trump has faced from the moment he won the election:
“Comey was a minor assistant US attorney in the late 90’s. He only gained power and money by being the DOJ official who “investigated” and cleared Bill Clinton of any wrong-doing in Clinton’s totally corrupt pardon (for huge payoffs) of criminal financier Marc Rich as Clinton was leaving the Presidency. This is how Comey began his career as a creature of the “swamp” years ago, as a servant of the Clintons.”
But he did put Martha Stewart in prison thus cleaning out the insider trading mess on Wall Street. Yep. The days of inside trading and other crony corruption are over!
It will be ridiculous and the fact that he was allowed to have contact with Mueller is an extreme conflict. I can’t believe it even was allowed and there isn’t a chorus demanding Mueller step down.
But what about the “tapes”?
There’s a theory in the back of my mind on ‘the tapes’ theory, but I’m not sure how well it holds water.
If Comey recorded his own meetings with Trump, even with something as simple as turning on Voice Recorder on his iPhone and letting it run, with the intent of using those recordings as (not to waffle words) blackmail, and if those recordings were stored somewhere the FBI collected when they bagged his office right after the firing, that would leave the FBI with proof of what Comey said during the meetings. Proof that might be *slightly* different than what he put into his ‘insurance’ memos.
The hole in this theory is that it depends on one or two people in Washington being able to shut up about a secret like this. Yeah, that’s a big hole.
Now if Trump recorded the conversations, or if they recovered a Comey ‘tape,’ the best time to release those recordings would be about a day after Comey goes and makes a total fool of himself with false claims. But then again, that would depend on people in DC being able to keep their big mouths shut (and double for Trump).
So in short? Nobody knows.
Comey will try and protect himself by invoking the specificity of “the Attorney General and DOJ,” as you say.
However, that doesn’t excuse him from the fact that he didn’t bring up the Trump interference (if it existed) at that very moment the question was asked. Any reasonable, apolitical agent would’ve brought up the relevant point that the President of the United States tried to interfere, if he was asked about the DOJ interfering.
Come may not have lied under oath on May 3rd, but his credibility is in shambles whether or not he contorts his earlier testimony.
Geez, Drudge has tons of Anti Trump articles posted, it’s becoming wayyyyy tooo common.
They’re just links. We’re able to sort things out OK.
If it were true, that President Trump attempted to “interfere”, would this not be considered an attempt to obstruct justice, an actual crime? As the FBI Director would he not have had a responsibility to take action knowing or suspecting that the President was attempting to obstruct justice? Comey thinks he’s too clever by half. If his contention is that the President attempted to interfere or “obstruct”, if you will, then he needs to explain why he said or did nothing before he was fired. On a separate note, regarding the repeated ad nauseam statements that Comey kept contemporaneous notes, those notes, like all correspondence while in government service are the property of the government under the Federal Records Act. Someone needs to demand he turn over ALL his notes.
The problem is that leaders of organizations and their subordinates have conversations about their work every day. The democrats are trying to make the point that the FBI director is an absolutely independent office and no oversight by the executive branch is allowed at all, for any reason.
Comey has proven himself to be an egocentric sleazeball.
The shine coming form the government as Trump cleans off the grease is like sunlight.
Imagine a hack like Jeb! trying to do the same? Or McCain? etc.
Imagine if hillary clinton was president?
Imagine if killer zombies really came to exist?
The long nightmare is almost over.
1) A weasel
2) Back stabber
3) When you’re so depressed you’re convinced everybody hates you and you’re doing everything wrong
4) A person who is indecisive. Someone who flip flops back and forth to the point of absurdity.
– In other words, he’s hillary clinton!
Every time I come here, I’m more disappointed in you, professor. He’s going to wiggle out of his May 3rd testimony about influence from DOJ by pointing out that he was testifying about influence from DOJ? That’s not wiggling out, not even a little bit. He wasn’t asked about what the president had said to him, and if he was, he likely would have refused to respond without Trump waiving executive privilege. He didn’t volunteer it for the same reason.
You’ve sold your integrity for some internet popularity.
What a bizarre and laughable comment. Truly.
You must be comey, clinton – or griffin – trolling this blog.
If hillary clinton doesn’t drop dead first, she is going to be indicted. And comey will be finally discovered to be the disgrace he is. And kathy griffin will be walking around with a sign, ‘will whore for food.’
William Jacobson will be further lauded and distinguished.
Donald Trump will become as great an American icon as Ronald Reagan, if not greater.
You? Will will be an awning.
As usual, you are wrong. What’s really confusing, besides the fact that none of them went to Cornell Law, is how you think Bill is old enough to have been any of their professors…
I’m sure the professor will note your disappointment, you commie kook.
This has to be the dumbest comment I’ve ever read, anywhere. However Comey took it whatever Trump said to him, saying something doesn’t doesn’t constitute obstruction of justice.
If Trump tried to interfere with the investigation the only way Trump could do it would be through the chain of command. The FBI director works for the DoJ. So when Comey said nobody at DoJ interfered with the investigation, that is the same thing as saying Trump didn’t interfere with the investigation.
Unless you have such a low IQ that you think Trump would send Bannon, Kushner, and Priebus over to FBI HQ and put all the agents conducting the investigation as well as director Comey in handcuffs and stash them in a basement at Camp David.
Ignoring your complete lack of understanding about the elements of obstruction of justice, nothing in my comment is even about obstruction of justice. You’re arrogantly responding to a claim I didn’t make, and you still manage to get even that response wrong.
How do you manage to function on a daily basis?
I function by not making the dumba## comments you routinely make.
I wasn’t just responding to your inane comment. Inane because no President could reach down directly to the FBI director and tell him to halt an investigation. He would have to go through the Attorney General.
But also the transcript of the questioning and Comey’s responses under oath. He testified that no one at the DoJ had ever tried to interfere with or tell him to halt an investigation for political purposes. Clearly his questioner, Hirono, was implying criminal wrongdoing.
If no one at DoJ tried to interfere with the Flynn investigation, that means Trump didn’t try to interfere with the investigation.
The president, who is the only person who can fire the Director of the FBI, has no leverage over the Director of the FBI? That’s actually your argument for why the president couldn’t have attempted to influence the investigation, except through DOJ?
And you actually believe that?
Your reasoning has a blush of potential upon first reading. But by the time I got the last of the comments, a counter argument came to me.
When Holden needed protection from the authority of Congress to constrain him to talk, or suffer consequences, he went and hid behind Obama’s apron. Holden needed Obama’s help, and Obama was eager to provide it because he had an interest in hiding the behind-the-scenes info on Fast and Furious.
In this situation, Comey wants to talk. He neither needs nor wants Trump to claim any conversations the two had as “protected” by executive privilege.
And what if Trumps claims executive privilege anyway? I don’t see how a president can shut someone up who wants to talk. If Congress is asking questions, a witness can elect to answer them, whether or not a president is claiming executive privilege. The ability to silence a witness with a claim of privilege by the president becomes more problematic in this situation because Comey is no longer a federal employee – the president is no longer his boss.
I think a claim of executive privilege takes two to tango. The president cannot unilaterally stop someone from talking with a claim of privilege. The speaker must have an interest in the claim of privilege. If he does not, what can or would compel him to act as if he did have an interest in concealing information from Congress? (Besides Arkancide,in certain situations.)
If anyone here can cite chapter and verse on how executive privilege works or has been exercised historically (and particularly, if silence via a claim of privilege can be imposed upon and unwilling party), I’d like to read what you have to say.
My statement about executive privilege is concerning his testimony on May 3rd, when he was still Trump’s Director of the FBI, in which case his desire to talk was largely irrelevant. It was not about the applicability of executive privilege to Comey now, as a private citizen.
“My statement about…”
No one cares about your kooky commie statements.
We have either a progressive leftist troll or … no, it really has to be a troll. Who else would downcheck every single post?
I prefer to believe it’s “Hillary!”
The implication of this line of reasoning is that the FBI should run without any supervision whatsoever. For any organization as intensely heirarchical as the Federal government, this would be bizarre.
The FBI is a tool, and does not have unlimited resources. A bureau manager’s job is to apportion his resources so that they’re devoted to jobs which need to be done, and not wasted on jobs which don’t.
Postulate an instance of the FBI doing a full-boat investigation of some matter of law-enforcement interest—say, did Lizzie Borden (who was acquitted of a notorious axe murder) violate her alleged victim’s civil rights, thus opening herself up to a further charge (à la the Rodney King incident)? In such a case, a new manager (such as a newly-appointed or elected Attorney General or President) should be able to stop the investigation, on the very reasonable grounds that it’s of no more than academic interest and there are more important things to occupy the FBI’s time. It’s hard to see anything corrupt or even improper in such “interference”.
In the current case, the D’rats insist that the FBI chase after the Holy Grail of impeachable offenses. The persecution of Flynn is an outgrowth of the investigation of Trump and The Russians! The Russians! And they’ve been at that for months, with not a hint of success. So what do they do, keep looking in perpetuum? When is it time to call it a loss and quit, and redirect the manpower to a more useful end? And who makes that decision? Somebody has to, or it will never be made. There really must be some mechanism to prevent federal bureaus from exhausting the treasury while chasing chimæras.
Exactly. I’ve been pointing out the same.
James Comey is all about looking after himself first and last.
remember he is in the Clinton corner and must cover his ass==
Comey will do whatever his masters, the Clintons, tell him to do.
I’m quite sure Comey is capable of shooting himself in the back of the head, twice, to commit suicide.
When Comey testifies I want him to explain why Hillary shouldn’t be indicted? He stated that she committed the crime of mishandling classified info. Then he claimed that she shouldn’t be prosecuted because she had no criminal intent. The latter was a lie because the statute explicitly states that no criminal intent is required for prosecution.
Nothing unusual about the White House stopping a criminal investigation for political purposes. I was a prosecutor and saw it several times. The most egregious I ever saw was when Reagan squashed a grand jury investigation into British Airways, Pan Am and TWA driving Laker Airways out of business, a clear violation of the Sherman Act. Had ’em dead to rights but after months of nagging and threats by Maggie Thatcher Reagan caved and told the DOJ to close the case. It is well documented in the Reagan Library.
Conrad, besides grilling Comey on why he let Hillary off the hook, there is a whole line of questioning that this fine gentleman just as well would skip. the most devastating goes something like this:
Mr. Comey, how many investigations into the Executive Branch have occurred in the last eight years?
Mr. Comey, have any of these investigatons lead to a conviction of individuals?
Mr. Comey. of the total of investigations you mentioned,
how many have lead to an indictment?
This Clinton-toady needs a good spanking!