Comey Testimony

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Former FBI Director Jim Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump, will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee June 8. He is expected to testify about an ongoing probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in meddling with our presidential election. He’s also expected to address a meeting he had with Trump where the president allegedly asked him to drop an investigation into former National Security Director Michael Flynn. Paul Charlton, a former U.S. Attorney for Arizona and a partner with Steptoe & Johnson, will talk about Comey’s testimony.

KIM COVINGTON: GOOD EVENING. I'M KIM COVINGTON IN FOR TED SIMONS. FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY TESTIFIED BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE TODAY. HE TOOK QUESTIONS IN AN OPEN SESSION MOST OF THE MORNING BEFORE MOVING TO A CLOSED DOOR SESSION IN THE AFTERNOON. THE FORMER DIRECTOR TALKED ABOUT HIS INTERACTIONS WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP WITH REGARD TO THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION, HIS FIRING AND WHETHER HE THINKS PRESIDENT TRUMP TRIED TO OBSTRUCT JUSTICE.

COMEY CLIP: I DON'T THINK IT'S FOR ME TO SAY WHETHER THE CONVERSATION I HAD WITH THE PRESIDENT AS AN EFFORT TO OBSTRUCT. I TOOK IT AS A CONVERSATION THAT WAS CONCERNING. I'M SURE THE SPECIAL COUNCIL WILL DETERMINE IF IT'S AN OFFENSE.

KIM COVINGTON: JOINING US TO TALK ABOUT THE IMPACT IT MAY HAVE HAD ON THE RUSSIAN INVESTIGATION AND PRESIDENCY IS PAUL CHARLTON AND PARTNERED WITH STEP TOE AND JOHNSON. WELCOME. I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT MY HEART IS RACING AFTER TWO AND A HALF HOURS THAT BEGAN WITH THIS OPENING STATEMENT.

COMEY CLIP: ALTHOUGH THE LAW REQUIRED NO REASON AT ALL TO FIRE AN FBI DIRECTOR, THE ADMINISTRATION CHOSE TO DEFAME ME AND THE FBI SAYING THE ORGANIZATION WAS IN DISARRAY, THAT IT WAS POORLY LEAD, THAT THE WORKFORCE HAD LOST CONFIDENCE IN ITS LEADER. THOSE WERE LIES, PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

KIM COVINGTON: PLAIN AND SIMPLE. WAS IT SIMPLE THAT HE IS CLEARING HIS NAME TODAY?

PAUL CHARLTON: JIM COMEY HAS A REPUTATION AS AN IMPECCABLE INDIVIDUAL. THERE ARE FEW THAT DOUBT THAT WHAT HE SAID TODAY WAS ACCURATE AND TRUTHFUL FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE. I DON'T THINK IT WAS ABOUT CLEARING HIS NAME AS GIVING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR FROM JIM COMEY.

KIM COVINGTON: IN YOUR OPINION, DID COMEY'S TESTIMONY BUILD A CASE FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE?

PAUL CHARLTON: COMEY WAS CAREFUL NOT TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION DIRECTLY. HE SAID IT WAS A QUESTION FOR THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, BOB MUELLER, BUT WHAT WE CAN SAY IS IT'S ONE MORE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE. AS BOB MUELLER MOVES FORWARD AND GATHERS MORE INFORMATION, THIS WILL BE AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE INFORMATION FOR MR. MUELLER.

KIM COVINGTON: COMEY SAYS HE WAS NEVER SPECIFICALLY ASKED TO DROP THE INVESTIGATION OF LYNN.

COMEY CLIP: HE DID NOT DIRECT YOU TO LET IT GO? NOT IN HIS WORDS, NO. HE DID NOT ORDER YOU TO LET IT GO. NO. HE SAID, I HOPE. LIKE ME, YOU HAVE PROBABLY DONE HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF CASES CHARGING PEOPLE WITH CRIMINAL OFFENSES. YOU HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE THOUSANDS OF CASES OUT THERE WHERE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CHARGED. DO YOU KNOW OF ANY CASE WHERE A PERSON HAS BEEN CHARGED FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE OR FOR THAT MATTER, ANY OTHER CRIMINAL OFFENSE WHERE THEY SAID OR THOUGHT THEY HOPED FOR AN OUTCOME? I DON'T KNOW WELL ENOUGH TO ANSWER. THE REASON I KEEP SAYING HIS WORDS IS, I TOOK IT AS A DIRECTION. IT'S THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WITH ME ALONE SAYING, I HOPE THIS. I TOOK IT AS THAT'S WHAT HE WANTS ME TO DO. YOU MAY HAVE TAKEN IT AS A DIRECTION, BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HE SAID. THOSE ARE HIS WORDS, CORRECT.

KIM COVINGTON: HANGING ON THE WORD "HOPE" DOES THE WORD HOPE GIVE TRUMP AN OUT?

PAUL CHARLTON: I DON'T THINK IT WOULD BE WISE FOR THOSE THAT SUPPORT THE PRESIDENT TO USE HOPE AS AN OUT. I HAVE PROSECUTED ENOUGH CASES TO KNOW THAT THE WORD HOPE IS OPERATIVE. I HOPE YOUR HOUSE DOESN'T BURN DOWN. I HOPE YOUR CHILDREN MAKE IT SAFELY TO SCHOOL. THIS IS THE KIND OF WORD THOSE THAT OBSTRUCT JUSTICE OFTEN USE. IT'S NOT CORRECT THAT HOPE GIVES ANYONE AN OUT THINKING ABOUT OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE.

KIM COVINGTON: IT'S A CASE OF HE SAID/HE SAID, RIGHT? WHO'S TELLING THE TRUTH? SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS FROM MAINE GOT TO THAT POINT.

COMEY CLIP: DID YOU SHOW COPIES OF YOUR MEMOS TO ANYONE OUTSIDE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE? YES. AND TO WHOM DID YOU SHOW COPIES? THE PRESIDENT TWEETED ON FRIDAY AFTER I GOT FIRED THAT I BETTER HOPE THAT THERE ARE NOT TAPES. I WOKE UP THINKING THERE MAY BE CORROBORATION. MY JUDGEMENT WAS THAT I NEEDED TO GET THAT OUT TO PUBLIC SQUARE. I ASKED A FRIEND TO SHARE CONTENT WITH A REPORTER. I ASKED HIM TO BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT MIGHT PROMPT THE APPOINTMENT OF A SPECIAL COUNSEL. I ASKED A FRIEND TO DO IT.

KIM COVINGTON: THIS IS TROUBLING AND UNDERSTANDABLE, YOUR CONCERN THAT SOMEONE IS GOING TO LIE ON YOU, SO YOU GO TO EXTREME MEASURES.

PAUL CHARLTON: FROM THE VERY FIRST MEETING, ACCORDING TO JIM COMEY'S TESTIMONY JANUARY 6TH THIS YEAR, MR. COMEY HAD CONCERNS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT'S TRUTHFULNESS. IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE NEXT EIGHT MEETINGS OR PHONE CALLS, MR. COMEY TOOK DETAILED NOTES, PUT THEM IN MEMORANDA SO HE WOULD HAVE A RECORD OF WHAT WAS SAID. SOME OF THE PRESIDENT'S STATEMENTS WERE IN QUOTATIONS. THAT IS IMPORTANT. IT IS DUE SOME GRAVITY, DUE SOME WEIGHT. IT DOES LEND TO THE CREDIBILITY OF MR. COMEY WHEN HE SAYS, THESE ARE THE EVENTS AS I REMEMBER THEM.

KIM COVINGTON: WHAT LED TO ALL OF THIS IS THAT TWEET THAT ORIGINAL TWEET FROM TRUMP. IF YOU DON'T REMEMBER, I'M SURE A LOT OF PEOPLE DO, THAT JAMES COMEY BETTER HOPE THERE ARE NO TAPES OF OUR CONVERSATION BEFORE HE STARTS LEAKING THAT TO THE PRESS. THAT JUST OPENED UP A CAN OF WORMS.

PAUL CHARLTON: HE WAS ALMOST PRODDING COMEY TO RELEASE INFORMATION, HIS PERSPECTIVE AND RECOLLECTION OF WHAT HAPPENED.

KIM COVINGTON: COMEY OUTLINED TRUMP'S CHARACTER RIGHT HERE TOO.

COMEY CLIP: WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THAT MEETING THAT LED YOU TO DETERMINE THAT YOU NEEDED TO START PUTTING DOWN A WRITTEN RECORD? A COMBINATION OF THINGS. I THINK THE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE SUBJECT MATTER AND PERSON I WAS INTERACTING WITH. FIRST I WAS ALONE WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THE PRESIDENT ELECT, SOON TO BE PRESIDENT. THE SUBJECT MATTER I WAS TALKING ABOUT, MATTERS THAT TOUCH ON THE FBI CORE RESPONSIBILITY AND TOUCH THE PRESIDENT ELECT PERSONALLY AND THE NATURE OF THE PERSON. I WAS CONCERNED THAT HE MIGHT LIE ABOUT THE NATURE OF OUR MEET, SO I THOUGHT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO DOCUMENT.

KIM COVINGTON: THIS IS CONCERNING. WE HEAR LIE OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I WAS CONCERNED. THERE WAS TRUST THAT WAS BROKEN. DO YOU BELIEVE HE MADE A CASE FOR OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE, AND FOR AN IMPEACHMENT HEARING.

PAUL CHARLTON: OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE AS A CRIME IS DIFFICULT TO THINK ABOUT. FIRST, WE DON'T EVEN KNOW IF A SITTING PRESIDENT CAN BE PROSECUTED. THE CONSTITUTION ISN'T CLEAR AND THERE ARE DIFFERING VIEWS ABOUT THAT. THIS ALONE, PROBABLY NOT. IF THERE ARE OTHER PIECES OF EVIDENCE TO SHOW THE PRESIDENT ACTED LIKE THIS WITH COMEY AND OTHERS, THIS MAY BE THE BEGINNING OF A CASE THAT BUILDS TOWARD OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS CAN BE BROUGHT FOR OBSTRUCTION OF BUSINESS. BECAUSE REPUBLICANS CONTROL THE HOUSE AND SENATE, AT THIS POINT AND TIME, IT'S UNLIKELY WE WOULD SEE AN IMPEACHMENT.

KIM COVINGTON: TWITTER BLEW UP. 3.6 MILLION PEOPLE TWEETED DURING THE TESTIMONY. THE NUMBER ONE ABOUT SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN'S BIZARRE TESTIMONY. WE COULDN'T UNDERSTAND IT. WHAT DID YOU MAKE OF IT?

PAUL CHARLTON: THE SENATOR HAD A SENSE OF HUMOR IN HIS OWN TWEET LATER ON SAYING HE HAD PERHAPS STAYED UP TOO LATE WATCHING THE DIAMONDBACKS.

KIM COVINGTON: WATCHING THE DIAMOND BACKS. IT SEEMED HE WAS -- I DON'T KNOW. IT SEEMED LIKE HE WAS MAKING A CASE FOR TRUMP?

PAUL CHARLTON: HE DID LINK TO A PRESS RELEASE IN THE TWEET ABOUT WATCHING THE DIAMONDBACKS TOO LATE. HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO SAY JIM COMEY HAD GIVEN AN OPINION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HILARY CLINTON COMMITTED A CRIME AND WOULD HE GIVE AN OPINION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THE PRESIDENT COMMITTED A CRIME.

KIM COVINGTON: THIS IS GOING TO GO ON LONGER THAN WE WANT.

PAUL CHARLTON: I WOULD LOVE TO SEE A QUICK RESOLUTION, BUT I DON'T THINK WE WILL.

KIM COVINGTON: THANK YOU, PAUL. WE APPRECIATE YOU TRYING TO EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS TO US. IT WAS FASCINATING. COMING UP, WE TALK TO ASU'S WELL BEING OFFICER HELPING STUDENTS COPE WITH THE STRAINS OF MODERN LIFE. STAY WITH US.

Paul Charlton: former U.S. Attorney for Arizona, partner with Steptoe & Johnson

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