Comey for the Record

by Rich Lowry

Comey’s statement for the record is out. A couple of things jump out:

Comey did tell Trump he wasn’t being investigated:

During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.

Regarding the conversation in the Oval Office, Comey took it to be about Flynn in particular, not the Russia investigation in general:

I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.

Comey recounts another instance of telling Trump he’s not under investigation in a subsequent call:

I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)

And Trump said he was happy for associates to be investigated in that same phone call:

The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he 7 hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him. 

In short, this isn’t much of a bombshell and is going to be a very thin reed to try to build an obstruction case on.

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