Here is what former FBI Director James Comey had to say to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“The Oval Office, right now, is an unfriendly climate for truth,” former CIA Director Michael Hayden told the London Times days after US President Donald Trump’s very public dismissal of FBI Director James Comey in May. On June 8, Comey took center stage at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, laying out a possible case for Trump’s attempt to obstruct justice.
The scandal exploded on the White House lawn when, in January 2017, reports began to surface that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had communicated with the Russian ambassador in Washington, Sergei Kislyak, regarding US sanctions in retaliation for the alleged Russian hacking. Flynn has since stepped down and is under investigation for lying about his communication with the Russians, as well as lobbying on behalf of Turkey prior to his nomination.
The inquiry quickly spread to affect those close to the president, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has since recused himself from the Russia probe, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
Flynn is at the heart of the Senate hearing. In his public testimony, Comey said he was disturbed and concerned by President Trump’s request to drop the investigation into Flynn, as the former FBI director outlined in his written statement to the committee. “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”
Intelligence officials have been angered by Comey’s premature dismissal. James Clapper, former director of national intelligence, said that Watergate pales in comparison with the Russia probe, with Acting-FBI Director Andrew McCabe defending Comey’s highly-regarded reputation. While his public testimony has not revealed any breaking news about the Trump administration’s alleged collusion with Russia, the inquiry is seen as a defense of American democracy from not only foreign interference, but a possible attack on its very institutions from within the country’s highest office.
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Photo Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)