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Comey strikes back

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James Comey isn’t being silent in retirement, it turns out.
The New York Times reported Tuesday afternoon that Comey authored a memo, part of an ongoing paper trail he reportedly kept for himself during his tenure, outlining a conversation he had with President Donald Trump, during which Trump allegedly asked Comey to halt an investigation into then-national security director, Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, reported Heat Street (US).

According to the Times, one of Comey’s close associates read the memo to the Times‘ reporters over the phone. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Comey recorded Trump as saying. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Comey’s memo also seems to indicate that Trump asked whether the FBI could jail reporters who published leaked information.

The White House denies everything, but Comey’s associate went on to tell the Times that Comey created records of all interactions with the President which made him uncomfortable about the potential for wrongdoing. According to the President’s headline making taunt via Twitter, he may have taped those same conversations himself. If so the truth about his conversations with Comey should be easy to verify in a Congressional investigation.

Comey, of course, is expected to be subpoenaed in Congress’s ongoing inquiry into Trump’s ties with Russia. And Tuesday night the chairman of the House Oversight Committee demanded that the FBI release all records it has of Comey’s conversations with Trump.

The ousted FBI director, who was unexpectedly booted by Trump last week after Trump reportedly grew frustrated with Comey’s ongoing investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign, is now free to talk, in those hearings, about his brief time serving under the Trump administration. His testimony will no doubt be enlightening, even if he never shares specifics about his meetings with the President.

Experts say, though, that Comey will likely tell his whole story in front of a Congressional panel, and there’s little the President or his associates can do to stop him. Comey’s memos, created almost immediately after he had his conversations with the President, could also be admissible in court — should it come to that.

“One of the problems that Trump created for himself in removing Jim Comey is that he dramatically increased the list of things that Jim Comey is now allowed to talk about,” former Comey aide Benjamin Witte told Slate, for example.

Few of the White House’s Republican allies are rushing to defend the president on the subject.
Trump likely thought that by letting Comey go, he’d have the power to appoint someone who would look more favorably on the administration – or at least would be more likely to honor Trump’s many odd requests. But if Trump was truly concerned about what Comey knew, he probably should have kept him on the inside where Trump, at least, was protected.

As Lyndon Johnson is said to have remarked about the notorious FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (whom he did not fire), “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

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