Handwritten notes taken by former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appear to corroborate former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that Donald Trump privately pressured him over the Russia investigation.
According to the New York Times, Robert Mueller’s team received documents from Priebus “showing that Mr. Trump talked to Mr. Priebus about how he had called Mr. Comey to urge him to say publicly that he was not under investigation.”
The report added: “The president’s determination to fire Mr. Comey even led one White House lawyer to take the extraordinary step of misleading Mr. Trump about whether he had the authority to remove him.”
Rachel Maddow discussed the revelation with Michael Schmidt, the New York Times reporter who broke the story on Thursday.
— Sean Colarossi (@SeanColarossi) January 5, 2018
Schmidt told Maddow:
What Trump was trying to do is … get his name cleared publicly. Comey, when he was going before Congress, would not say that Trump was not under investigation. He wouldn’t answer the question. But privately, Comey had told Trump that he wasn’t under investigation. So Trump was trying to figure out a way to get this out, and Comey wasn’t going to say it, so he said to the president, “You really need to go through the Justice Department.” So what Trump does is he turns around and tells Priebus about this. Priebus takes down notes from the conversation. … What this does show is … the same thing that Comey was saying in the memos.
The now-confirmed news that Trump pressured Comey over whether he was a target in the investigation, taken alone, might not be slam-dunk proof of obstruction of justice, but a single piece of evidence hardly ever is.
Add it to the growing pile of evidence, though, including tonight’s other revelation that Trump sought to use Jeff Sessions as protection in the investigation, and it’s clear that a pretty strong case is taking shape.
Once Donald Trump’s right-hand man in the White House, Reince Priebus just added another piece to the ever-growing obstruction of justice puzzle being constructed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.