Mike Schmidt at the New York Times just published a game changer that came from notes attributed to then FBI Director James Comey claiming that President Trump asked him to stop investigating General Mike Flynn the day after Flynn was fired.
“President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting,” Schmidt reports based on notes that Comey’s associates read to him.*
“I hope you can let this go,” Comey’s note reports Trump saying to him.
Schmidt notes that this looks like clear evidence that Trump tried to influence the investigation into Trump, his campaign, and Russia.
It would be obstruction of justice if this were accurate. That was the first article of impeachment against former President Richard Nixon.
Comey has a history, detailed in Schmidt’s piece, of keeping notes of conversations, stemming back to the Bush years. Schmidt noted, “An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.” Additionally in Comey’s corner is the report that he shared his note with senior FBI officials at the time.
Comey’s propensity for establishing a protective paper trail was called by Matthew Miller on May 12:
One thing I learned at DOJ about Comey: he leaves a protective paper trail whenever he deems something inappropriate happened. Stay tuned. https://t.co/sENlYyhL5B
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 12, 2017
The White House sent PoliticusUSA a statement in reaction to the NYT story, which asserts that President Trump did not ask Comey or anyone else to end the investigation.
Trump warned Comey against doing what Comey just did, saying he had tapes. If Trump has tapes, now is the time to produce them in order to exonerate himself.
But we might be parsing words again, because Trump would not have had to ask Comey directly to end the investigation in order to influence the investigation. He shouldn’t have been speaking about it at all. Perhaps he didn’t. If this is the case, and Trump has the tapes, he should produce them for his own sake.
This is yet another reason why Trump shouldn’t have fired the FBI Director. Comey is known as a man who keeps records of conversations, especially those he felt would be called in to question according to Schmidt.
But any fool would know not to fire the FBI Director who was in the middle of investigating them. What does Trump think the FBI does all day? Does he think the FBI will be intimidated by his lawyers?
The faction of the FBI investigating Trump is the faction focused on enemies of the U.S. who are within.
The FBI isn’t going to play with Trump, and Comey has no doubt more notes where this one came from. This is a serious allegation waged at a already embattled president who just gave the intelligence community yet another reason to view him as a danger to the country by spilling highly classified information about an ISIS plot to Russia.
Donald Trump is bringing a knife to a gun fight with the FBI. These people came to play for their country. They mean business.
*Journalists try to avoid having things read to them, but in this case the need for maintaining the note’s chain of custody for evidentiary purposes and the sensitivity of the charges make the case for why anyone would be loath to share the note directly. The note will need to be released and verified.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.