WILL HE “RECALL” THIS TIME?
by Sharon Rondeau
On December 7, Comey told members of the two committees that he is “a big fan of oversight and truth-seeking.” Prior to entering Monday morning’s closed-door interview, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC11) said that he is hopeful that Comey can “clear up” a number of items which he said Comey claimed but are “inconsistent” with testimony from others the committees have interviewed.
Several congressional committees have been investigating why the FBI launched the “Russia” counterintelligence probe in 2016 when no clear evidence has been presented that any member of the Trump campaign engaged in improper communications with Russians or the Kremlin.
In June, the Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a report in which former FBI counterintelligence deputy Peter Strzok and his then-paramour and colleague, FBI Counsel to the Deputy Director Lisa Page, were noted to have exchanged thousands of politically-charged text messages which ultimately removed one or both from the Mueller investigation.
Strzok was fired in August, while Page resigned in May. Both have testified to Congress, although Page in private.
Following Strzok’s public testimony to two congressional committees in July, many Republicans said they found him not credible. Democrats generally praised and supported his 22 years at the Bureau and former service in the U.S. Army. Some of the same Republicans found Page to be credible, they said after her July testimony.
Support for Comey generally falls along the same lines, with Democrats appearing to focus on the Trump administration during their December 7 questioning and Republicans asking him why the FBI made certain decisions in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections.
On December 9, Comey interviewed with NBC‘s Nicolle Wallace, where he said that he was responsible for dispatching two FBI agents to interview then-National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (Ret) on January 24, 2017 in what was not standard protocol.
Comey told Wallace that he likely would not have “gotten away with it” had a different administration been in place. At the time, it was the fourth day of the Trump administration, which had already been plagued with national-security leaks for which no one has yet been charged.
The agents were instructed not to warn Flynn that lying to federal agents is a crime or to allow him the opportunity to have an attorney with him. The meeting was reportedly set up hastily and occurred the same day that now-fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe contacted Flynn.
The Washington Post reported last week that Flynn refused the opportunity to bring in an attorney to the interview.
Two days later, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates made a point to convey to then-White House Counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was “compromised” as to Russia and could be blackmailed by that nation’s government.
On January 29, 2017, Yates was fired for refusing to enforce Trump’s first “travel ban” and encouraging her subordinates to do the same.
On February 18, Trump fired Flynn after it appeared that he had not been honest with Vice President Mike Pence and others about his conversations with then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
After Comey was fired by the Trump administration on May 9, 2017, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was hired to finish the agency’s counterintelligence investigation into possible “collusion” with Russian operatives. Trump has denied that there was any “collusion,” and despite 36 indictments stemming from Mueller’s 19 months of work, no one has been charged with “collusion.”
At 10:09, Democrat strategist Mary Anne Marsh told Fox News’s Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith that Mueller intends to “take it all the way to the Supreme Court,” referring to whether or not Trump sits for an interview with Mueller or his prosecutors. On Sunday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said that an interview between Trump and Mueller’s team would happen “over my dead body.”
Trump has already provided written responses to questions from Mueller’s team.
On Tuesday, Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading “guilty” to lying to the FBI on December 1 of last year. However, an FBI “302” reflecting Flyun’s interview with the two agents, Joe Pientka and Strzok, states that the agents did not believe Flynn was being deceptive during their conversation.
As was the case with Comey’s first deposition this month, a transcript is expected to be made available within 24 hours.
Updated at 11:03 AM EST.