When I saw this on Twitter a few days ago, I remember thinking that, if true, things could get very interesting.
One thing I learned at DOJ about Comey: he leaves a protective paper trail whenever he deems something inappropriate happened. Stay tuned. https://t.co/sENlYyhL5B
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 12, 2017
Miller was right, according to the latest bombshell dropped by the New York Times (and corroborated by several other news outlets).
Here’s the story: according to a couple of associates of former FBI Director James Comey, he kept a paper trail of every conversation he had with Trump. They told the NYT about a meeting that was documented in one of them. On February 14th, the day after Trump was forced to fire Michael Flynn, Comey was at the White House for a terrorism threat briefing. After it concluded, the president asked everyone but Comey to leave the Oval Office. Here’s what happened next:
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
According to the Times, Comey shared the memo he wrote about this meeting with two senior FBI officials, who could be corroborating witnesses as to its contents and timing. They also note that, “An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.” Jeffrey Toobin takes it from there.
Jeffrey Toobin’s reaction to report Trump asked Comey to end Flynn probe: “Three words: obstruction of justice.” https://t.co/I75XzEdgqF
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) May 16, 2017
Of course the White House is saying that “this is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey.” But you’ll notice that they didn’t claim that the conversation never happened. The question becomes, did Trump record it? We might soon find out.
Apparently Comey is willing to testify in public at a congressional hearing and Sen. Graham has extended an invitation. That is what needs to happen next. This and any other memos that might document the president’s attempt to obstruct justice need to be put on record along with testimony about them by their author.
Josh Marshall says that we’re no longer dealing with smoke…this is the fire.
Firing an FBI Director while such an investigation like this is afoot is something like that, breaking a fence. In theory, the President has every right to fire an FBI Director. But doing so while such an investigation is underway has the look of trying to end the investigation. But in this case, asking Comey to end the probe itself doesn’t break one of the fences. It’s the thing itself. There’s no question of intent or misunderstandings. It’s the hand in the register. There’s just nothing more to know. It’s the thing itself.
I suspect that if Comey kept the kind of notes his associates have suggested, there is more fire to come. And, to change the metaphor, once those floodgates open, we might be hearing from a whole host of others with similar stories to tell. This may not be the end, but it is the beginning of the end.