Trump told Russians that firing ‘nut job’ Comey eased pressure from investigation
Former FBI Director James Comey now believes that President Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment about the Russian Federation probe, a person familiar with his thinking says, but whether that influence amounts to obstruction of justice remains an open question.
A current, senior White House adviser – not merely another former campaign aide or distant associate of President Trump – has been identified by federal investigators as a significant person of interest in a probe aimed at determining whether Trump’s political team colluded with Russian Federation to meddle in the 2016 election.
While White House staffers solidified the details of Trump’s first foreign trip, sensitive information apparently poured out of the administration like a sieve to major USA news outlets regarding the president’s handling of the former FBI director and the ongoing law enforcement investigation into his campaign. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBIs Russia investigation.
Lawmakers at both congressional sessions expressed frustration that Rosenstein would say little in answer to their questions about his actions – or others’ – before Comey’s firing.
The experience left some lawmakers, Democrats in particular, with less confidence in the Justice Department’s oversight of Mueller’s investigation. This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration. “I don’t think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today”.
The White House has struggled since Comeys firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and the Justice Departments involvement in that decision.
In the remarks, Rosenstein said he learned a day before Comey’s firing that Trump wanted to dismiss him.
“What we didn’t get a clear understanding of is whether or not the memo was written with or without any urging from the White House”, Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) told reporters after the briefing.
“My memorandum is not a finding of official misconduct”, Rosenstein wrote.
However, he also stressed that his memo should not be considered a “a legal brief”, “a finding of official misconduct”, “a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination”, “a survey of Federal Bureau of Investigation morale or performance”, nor “a press release“.
But Rosenstein added: “I wrote it. I stand by it”. He had previously admitted that the investigation was part of the reasoning for the decision. Rosenstein denounced that decision as “profoundly wrong and unfair”.
“The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former (FBI) director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections”, Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Committee, said.
Trump has reacted furiously to the appointment.
A third government official briefed on the meeting defended the president, saying Mr. Trump was using a negotiating tactic when he told Mr. Lavrov about the “pressure” he was under. “That’s taken off. I’m not under investigation”.
The appointment of the special counsel indicates others believe that’s still open to question.
But calls for the Russia probe to be placed in independent hands intensified this week following reports that Trump urged Comey to reel back its investigation of Michael Flynn, the national security advisor fired for not telling the truth about contacts he had with the Russian ambassador to Washington before Trump took power.