In what was the most anticipated U.S. congressional hearing in years, James Comey revealed the many comments Donald Trump made about the FBI’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections and the investigation of Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Moscow.
In his testimony, the former FBI director detailed to lawmakers how the president, on several occasions, demanded to speak with him alone.
Instead of calling out Trump on this bizarre request, some Senate intelligence committee members attacked Comey for not standing up to his former boss.
For example, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) grilled Comey over, essentially, for not rejecting the president’s request.
“You perceived it as an order given his position, the setting and the like, and some of the circumstances,” Rubio said. “At the time did you say anything to the president about ‘That is not an appropriate request,’ or did you tell the White House counsel, ‘That is not an appropriate request, someone needs to go tell the president that he can’t do these things’? Why?”
(It is important to mention here that Rubio is the same person who criticized — and was criticized by — Trump throughout his presidential campaign and humiliatingly ended up supporting Trump, despite the media mogul’s well-documented history of sexism and bigotry, because politics mean more than morals.)
Here’s how Comey replied to Rubio’s question:
“I think the circumstances were such that I was a bit stunned and didn’t have the presence of mind. At the moment, it didn’t come to my mind. What came to my mind was, be careful what you say.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) nitpicked at Trump's words to try to show the president wasn't attempting to influence the Flynn investigation.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Trump said of Flynn, according to Comey.
While this was clearly an attempt on the president’s part to try to influence an FBI investigation, Risch didn’t see it that way. Why? Because Trump said “I hope” and not “I order you” to Comey.
“He said ‘I hope,’” Risch said.
“Those are the exact words, correct,” Comey replied.
“You don’t know of anyone that has ever been charging for hoping something, is that a fair statement,” Risch shot back.
“I don’t as I sit here,” Comey said.
Another Republican senator who seemed more interested in Comey’s reaction to another one of Trump’s odd requests, and not so much interested in the request itself, was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
McCain referred to the part of Comey’s testimony about his last meeting with Trump on April 11 when the POTUS told the ex-FBI head: “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.”
“Did that arouse your curiosity as what ‘that thing’ was?” McCain asked Comey during the hearing. “Why didn’t you ask him?”
“It didn’t seem to me to be important to the conversation we were having,” Comey replied.
“I’d like to know what the hell that thing is, particularly if I’m the director of the FBI,” McCain replied.
Meanwhile, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who wasn’t even at the hearing, blamed Comey for being “weak.”
We learned: Comey leaked stuff to press;he was too weak to stand up to @POTUS and rolled over from pressure from AG Lynch; yes he got fired!— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) June 8, 2017
In addition, in yet another pathetic attempt to exonerate Trump for his inappropriate requests to Comey, House Speaker Paul Ryan came up with an outrageous defense, saying it was OK to excuse Trump because he is new to the government.
“And so he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” Ryan said.
It seems Republicans will go to any length to defend Donald Trump: Republicans over the the republic.