Former FBI Director James Comey is now set to testify before Congress on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 10 am ET. The purpose of the testimony is to allow Comey to provide information regarding his discussions with President Trump in a private dinner meeting the two had shortly before Trump terminated Comey’s reign as FBI Director. One central question will be who requested the meeting, as Trump has plainly stated it was a Comey request. There are also looming questions involving Comey and his unprecedented willingness to testify without need of a subpoena, as was issued to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.
Comey’s testimony required the approval of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is assigned to investigate the claims of collusion between the Trump Administration and Russian government officials regarding interference in the 2016 election. Mueller is former Director of the FBI and all information regarding the Russian investigation is currently sealed, requiring his approval for Comey to testify if questioned about Russia, which is an assured line of inquiry.
The problem with this arrangement and Comey’s willingness to testify is that it could well be an opportunity for Comey to retaliate against Trump for being terminated, an act that is said to have infuriated Comey. Comey was a holdover from the Obama Administration and the FBI Director clearly serves at the pleasure of the United States President. According to reports at the time of the firing, Comey was in California and could not access his office before the Assistant Director of the FBI, who was promoted to acting Director, could officially occupy the office.
This situation means that it is unclear how much evidence or how many memos from Comey to the Obama Administration during the election is currently in the possession of the acting director, and potentially U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The underlying question concerning Comey is also collusion on his on part, as well as a conflict of interest involving the Clinton Foundation. There is now even a question as too whether an investigation actually was ever conducted, as activist attorneys at Judicial Watch have filed a FOI request.
This could be a clear problem for Comey if his records show that he was interacting with the Obama Administration or the Clinton Foundation during the investigations, including questions concerning the Democratic National Convention for fixing the primary election against Bernie Sanders. And then there is the Clinton email debacle, along with a supposed ongoing investigation into the activities of the Clinton Foundation regarding “pay-to-play” allegations.
Another problem is that Comey’s brother is lead counsel for the Clinton Foundation and maintained that capacity during the supposed investigations. Comey’s brother reportedly also owes former director Comey approximately $700,000 for a loan used to purchase a home, a loan which may have been partially repaid by the Clintons in exchange for representing the foundation in its tax matters. Former FBI Director Comey was also lead counsel for Lockheed during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State and negotiated billions of dollars in contracts with the state department during that time. He was given a multi-million dollar bonus by Lockheed upon exiting to the FBI Director position.
During the questioning by the House intelligence committee, the Democrats will be focused on trying to find a shred of evidence, whether it is documented or not, that Trump attempted to interfere in the investigation into Michael Flynn’s connections to Russian officials. This line of interrogation will be directed at Flynn and Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, while they also attempt to glean information from Comey regarding obstruction of justice by Trump regarding the Flynn investigation.
The Republicans understand that this is also a comprehensive testimony situation that will also include testimony regarding interaction between Comey and the Clinton Foundation and the DNC via the Obama Administration during the election. Obama was very vocal and rash towards the Trump election team during the election process, while also being accused of interfering in the election process himself by surveillance of the Trump associates, ordered to Comey while he was still director. President Trump could invoke executive privilege regarding the discussions with Comey, but adviser Kelly Conway stated yesterday on Fox News, “We will be watching with the rest of the world.”
It is indeed chaotic in the District of Columbia, and this should be an interesting week in Washington.