Trump, Russia and Comey: Where it all stands – Morgan Chalfant – 06/11/17 07:30 AM EDT


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Ousted FBI Director James Comey has offered his testimony, and President Trump and his lawyers have come back with their response.

In one of the most memorable congressional hearings in U.S. history, Comey called the man who fired him a liar, and said he believed he had been directed to end an investigation into former former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump disputes Comey’s recollection, and on Friday said he is “100 percent” willing to give his own version under oath.

The president could get that chance, with former FBI Director Robert Mueller helming an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election and ties to Trump’s campaign.

Democrats believe there is evidence Trump sought to obstruct that probe, and Comey himself said he expected Mueller, his predecessor at the FBI, to look into it.

Here is where the drama now stands, as the dust settles.

Comey nudges Mueller toward obstruction of justice

Comey in his prepared testimony presented detailed accounts of five key conversations with Trump, offering his interpretation of events.

The key part of Comey’s testimony is a Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting with Trump, where he says the president cleared the room before saying “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

Comey told the Senate he believes he was being directed to end the investigation of Flynn.

Trump and his defenders say it is merely and innocent conversation, and that it is by no means proof of obstruction of justice.

Legal experts say that Comey’s account gives Mueller reason to dig around.

“Mueller will certainly explore the reasons that Trump sought to end the investigation of Flynn, and if he finds corrupt intent, that is a huge problem for Trump,” Bill Jeffress, a lawyer at international law firm Baker Botts LLP, said.

But views are decidedly mixed on whether there is really obstruction of justice.

Legal expert Alan Dershowitz has said that Comey’s testimony provided no evidence obstruction of justice, arguing that the president was within his legal authority to direct the head of the FBI to stop investigating anyone.

“I think this puts an end to any claim that President Trump obstructed justice,” Dershowitz said on Fox News. “You can’t obstruct justice by simply exercising your power under the Constitution.”

Heat falls on Sessions

Comey’s testimony put new scrutiny on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his contacts with Russian officials.

Sessions is now due to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

The former FBI director told lawmakers that the bureau had decided against informing Sessions of the Flynn meeting because agents believed Sessions would soon have to recuse himself from any Russia-related investigation.

“We were also aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic,” Comey testified.

 

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