Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Trump committed to fair United States elections free from any interference: White House

AM-1496935847 Trump committed to fair United States elections free from any interference: White House
Francis Olson | 09 June, 2017, 07:33

During testimony regarding President Trump's request for a loyalty pledge in the hopes of the FBI dropping the investigation into Michael Flynn, Senate Intelligence Committee member Diane Feinstein asked James Comey why he wasn't more forceful and assertive amid the president's clumsy persuasion.

In more than two hours of testimony, Comey did not make any mayor new revelations about alleged links between Trump or his associates and Russian Federation, an issue that has dogged Trump's first months in office and distracted from his policy goals such as overhauling the US healthcare system and making tax cuts.

Comey's opening comments follow the release by the committee of his written testimony on Wednesday, which ticked off in rich detail the extent to which President Trump pressed him about the Russian Federation investigation. During his opening remarks to the committee, Comey accused the Trump administration of lying about the reason for his firing and defaming him and the entire Federal Bureau of Investigation. Comey, who testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was shocked and taken into dilemma by the contradictory statements issued by U.S. government after he was sacked on May 9. When asked why, Comey was frank: "I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting". He called Comey's assertion that Trump fired him to change the Russian Federation investigation "a shattering truth".

"I don't know. That's Bob Mueller's job to sort that out", Mr Comey responded, referring to the newly appointed special counsel who has taken over the Justice Department's Russian Federation investigation.

"The American people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the president's descriptions of events", said committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-NC at the outset of the hearing.

Except for that last item about the firing, those statements were offered in written testimony released the day before (and repeated and examined during) Comey's actual testimony before the Senate committee on Thursday. NPR journalists annotated his statement, below.

During the course of the conversation, according to Comey, Trump said: "I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know".

James Comey testifies before the Senate on Russian Federation
There are just 88 seats reserved for members of the public in the hearing room, Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. Which is why the written testimony of former FBI Director James Comey to Congress, released on June 7, was so unsettling.

"My judgment was I need to get that out into the public square", Comey said.

"The president surely knows whether he taped me, and if he did my feelings aren't hurt".

"That was the subject of criminal inquiry", Comey said. "I took it as a direction".

That bombshell announcement made clear to everyone, including the president who later fired him, that the investigation was very real.

The ball now is in Mueller's court to decide whether he has (or will have) enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction and, if so, whether the president, like everyone else in our system, is accountable for committing a federal crime. The president has not yet publicly denied the specifics of Comey's accounts but has broadly challenged his credibility, tweeting last month Comey "better hope there are no "tapes" of the conversations.

He revealed that he asked a "good friend of mine" who is a professor at Columbia Law School to share contents of the memo with a reporter. "I disagreed", Comey said.

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