SO WHICH ONE IS IT?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Dec. 9, 2018) — In testimony provided to the House Judiciary and Oversight & Government Reform Committees on Friday, former FBI Director James Comey said both that President Donald Trump was and was not under investigation by the Bureau in regard to allegations of coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian operatives.
A transcript of the six-hour session is here: https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Comey-interview-transcript-12-7-18_Redacted-1.pdf
Comey refused to use the word “collusion,” as is commonly used in the press for the investigation now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Comey claimed he had never encountered the term before in his lengthy law-enforcement career and did not know its meaning.
Early in the closed-door testimony, Comey stated that the FBI was investigating “four Americans” “to see if there was any connection between those four Americans and the Russian interference effort. And those four Americans did not include the candidate” (pp. 23-24).
Up to that point, no current or former government figure had reported that “four Americans” were being scrutinized for ties to Russia, although former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos tweeted approximately two weeks ago that in fact, four Americans were the subject of FISA warrants obtained by the DOJ and/or FBI.
On Sunday morning’s edition of “Fox & Friends,” former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy speculated that the “four Americans” Comey invoked are Carter Page, who is known to have been under FISA surveillance for a year; short-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, now in federal prison on eight convictions unrelated to the campaign; Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and assistant to Manafort who accepted a plea deal as a result of the Mueller probe; and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security advisor, who also accepted a plea deal.
On page 69 of the transcript, while responding to questions from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) about Trump’s alleged attempts “to smear and undermine the credibility of his investigators at the Justice Department” (p. 67), Comey said, “To the extent it echoes the lies and the smears from the President, it simply increases the chances that the Department of Justice and the FBI’s credibility will be undermined. I’m a big fan of oversight and truth-seeking, but when people veer from truth-seeking into trying to find any excuse to bad-mouth an organization that’s investigating the President, we’ve lost our way” (p. 69).
In sworn public testimony on June 8, 2017, Comey said that Trump was not under investigation.
On Friday Comey claimed not to have read the information the FBI used to launch its counterintelligence investigation into the “four Americans” associated with the Trump campaign nor exactly who has the authority to open such a probe since it occurs “below the Director’s level” (p. 25).
At approximately 9:20 a.m. EST, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, who is retiring next month, said that Comey will return for further testimony on December 17. Goodlatte expressed that he is disappointed in Comey’s claim to “not know,” “not remember,” or “not recall” in response to hundreds of collective questions asked on Friday.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.