Comey Testimony: The Five Biggest Bombshells From Thursday’s Testimony
While the world tuned in to watch former FBI Director James Comey provide testimony against Trump – no one expected the bombshells he dropped would clear Trump of wrongdoing, while suspecting that the Attorney General Loretta Lynch was working with the Clinton campaign and admitting that he himself leaked classified information to the press.
Here are the five biggest bombshells from the Comey testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday:
Any obstruction of Justice came from Loretta Lynch
Comey stated that Lynch – whom he reports to – told him specifically to not refer to the FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server as an investigation. “She said just call it a matter. That concerned me because that language tracked down how the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work.”
He said that there were many reasons why he went public with the Clinton investigation just days before the November election, including “one significant” reason, which had to remain classified. However, he stated that the ultimate reason he made his decision, was Lynch’s meeting on the tarmac with former president Bill Clinton right before the FBI was to announce if they were pressing charges against Hillary Clinton.
“In an ultimately conclusive way, that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the Justice Department,” he said.
Comey followed up that what Lynch did, “gave me a queasy feeling,” but confessed that he still followed Lynch’s advice of not recommending charges against Clinton – although he wishes he could have resisted more.
“I just said this isn’t a hill worth dying on and so I just said, “O.K.,” Comey stated, but he added that he was concerned that the Clinton campaign was referring to the investigation with the exact language, and suggested concern if Lynch was working with the Clinton campaign.
Comey’s statements could potentially damage Lynch’s reputation as impartial, leading top law enforcement officer.
Comey Admits to Leaking Information to the Press
With leaks plaguing the Trump administration, it was revealed that James Comey was behind at least some of the classified leaks. Comey testified that he asked Columbia law professor Daniel C. Richman to leak the content of memos documenting his interactions with President Donald Trump.
He stated, “My judgement was that I needed to get that out into the public square. So I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.” Comey continued, “I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special council (to see why Comey was fired), so I asked a close friend of mine to do it.”
President Turmp’s outside council, Mark Kasowitz slammed Comey over the leak. “Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to his friends his purpoted memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified.” Kasowitz followed up stating that “We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated.”
Should Comey be tried for leaking classified information, it would be ironic given he famously called Hilary Clinton “extremely careless” with her handling of classified information – yet Clinton was hacked while he handed out classified information freely.
Comey Stated that he was not strong enough to stand up to the President
One of the most memorable exchanges of Comey’s hearing on Thursday, took place when Senator Dianne Feinstein of California asked the former FBI director about President Trump’s alledged request to drop the criminal investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
Feinstein stated, “You’re big, you’re strong… Why didn’t you stop and say, “Mr. President, this is wrong – I cannot discuss that with you’?”
“Maybe if I were stronger, I would have,” Comey replied.
While Comey admitted that he was not strong enough to stand up to the President, he did recall choosing his words carefully and praising Michael Flynn, calling him a good guy.
“Maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance,” he said. “But that’s how I conducted myself. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I would do it better.”
Comey Admits that Trump was never under Investigation
Senator Jim Risch asked Comey about the New York Times reporting on President Donald Trump colluding with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Comey stated that the New York Times report was “not true.”
“Ok, so again,” Risch said. “So the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true, is that a fair statement?”
“It was not true,” Comey said. “Again, all of you know this, maybe the American people don’t. The challenge – I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information…the challenge 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.”
“We don’t call on the press to say, hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic,” Comey said. “We just have to leave it there.”
This caused Senator Marco Rubio to ask, “Do you ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the one thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans and the leadership of Congress knew that and have known that for weeks?”
Comey answered that President Trump was never under investigation, but after telling the President multiple times that there was no investigation into Russia ties, he never informed the public because classified briefings to Congress on such matters are “pretty tightly held.”
Comey Committed Perjury to Congress
Under testimony Thursday, Comey said he interpreted President Trump’s “simply hoped” as a direct order. However, this contradicts his sworn Senate testimony from May 3.
Comey now confirms that Trump simply hoped that the investigation into Flynn, who Comey called a “good guy” would end. This is a statement to which Sen. Marco Rubio pointed out was a wish, rather than an actual directive from the President.
Comey claims he interpreted Trump’s wish as a direct order, which contradicts his statements from last month where he said the Trump administration did not try to stop the investigation.
The fired FBI director even went so far to state to Sen. Mazie Harono that it would “be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something like that – without an appropriate purpose. I’m talking about a situation where we are told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience,” he said.