In the ongoing saga of the Russian election scandal, the Senate Intelligence Committee has announced that they want James Comey, the deposed FBI Director, as well as his successor Acting Director Andrew McCabe, to testify what they know regarding the Russian role in the 2016 election. The request was made by Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner.
“We don’t lack for questions,” Warner said. “I don’t think I know of any member I’ve talked to publicly or privately — Democrat or Republican — that doesn’t think that Jim Comey deserves a chance to tell his side of the story.”
The announcement comes shortly after Comey was fired by President Trump, who called him a “showboat.” The President dismissed the head of the FBI for unsatisfactory job performance overall, especially regarding how he handled the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal.
Trump has also not been happy with the continued and consistent insistence of the Russian meddling in the election narrative. He called the allegations against him and his administration, “phony.” He says he has not, so far, tried to stop an investigation, a fact that McCabe has confirmed. But, this is a hotly contested point.
A New York Times story released last week alleges that Trump asked Comey to discontinue the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned after only three weeks over suspected Russian connections.
“I hope you can let this go,” Comey said Trump told him. The President reportedly added, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
The story states that Comey created a memo describing the encounter and now the Senate wants to see it. The encounter, supposedly occurred February 14, the day after Flynn resigned.
The testimonies of Comey and McCabe will occur in both open and closed sessions. McCabe has been asked by the Senate Judiciary Committee for any memos concerning the President or senior White House officials.
In a letter, the Senate Committee explained that Comey had referenced leaving a paper trail of “what he perceived as the President’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation.” The letter requested all such records of interactions “if they exist, that Mr. Comey created memorializing interactions he had with Presidents Trump and Obama, Attorneys General Sessions and Lynch, and Deputy Attorneys Rosenstein, Boente, and Yates, regarding the investigations of Trump associates’ alleged connections with Russia or the Clinton e-mail investigation. “
The committee gives McCabe a 72-hour deadline to comply.
“I think we need to hear from him as soon as possible in public to respond to the issues that have been raised in recent days,” the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, told the Wall St. Journal.
Any recordings, such as the ones Trump cryptically referred to when he said that Comey “had better not hope there were any tapes made of their conversations,” were also called for.
Now, Republican Representative Justin Amash, told CNN that if Trump conspired to block the investigation into Michael Flynn’s resignation, it was obstruction of justice—an impeachable offense that led to the downfalls of both Nixon and Clinton.
“Any effort to stop the federal government from conducting an investigation, any effort to dissuade federal agents from pursuing an investigation is very serious and could be construed as obstruction of justice,” he said. “We’ve seen that these obstruction of justice cases, when they deal with presidents, can get ugly very fast.”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the Trump administration, “wants to get to the bottom of this.” Rightly so, as the Russian story has not stopped since November. The administration also released a statement saying that the portrayal of the conversation between the two officials was skewed. Although they did not comment on whether the conversation actually happened, the statement simply seemed to say the exchange was taken out of context.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country,” the statement read. “the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
The Senate Committee hearings are slated to begin next week. It appears that Russia and Michael Flynn may end up being Trump’s Lewinsky scandal. Perhaps that’s what you get for coming in and really trying to shake up Washington. They eat you alive.