James Comey is set to testify this week, an appearance that could reveal Donald Trump’s attempts to interfere with the Russia investigation and set the stage for his impeachment.
The now-fired FBI director has agreed to meet with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, facing questions about whether Trump tried to interfere with the investigation that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. There had been reports that Trump was considering stopping Comey from testifying by invoking executive privilege, but the White House ultimately decided against it.
As CNN noted, the James Comey testimony could potentially start the process of Donald Trump’s impeachment if it is revealed that he obstructed the investigation into his campaign’s Russian ties.
“Sources familiar with Comey’s thinking told CNN last month that he now believes that Trump was trying to influence his judgment about the Russia investigation, during several conversations. But whether that influence amounts to an obstruction of justice amounts to an open question.
“Earlier in the month, sources told CNN that the President asked Comey to end the investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, a request the then-FBI chief noted in a memo as he was so disturbed by it.”
Trump fired Comey in May, with different rationale arising from the White House as to why Trump sacked the FBI director. The White House communications team initially said Trump was acting on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein, but Trump himself later said that the investigation into possible collusion with Russia was at the heart of the firing.
“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,'” Trump said in an interview with NBC News.
There were reports that Trump had met with Comey to demand the FBI director pledge his loyalty to Trump, to which Comey refused.
Experts have said that James Comey’s testimony on Thursday has the potential to be something of an earthquake to the political landscape.
“Potentially, it’s history depending on what Comey says,” former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin told CNN. “If he says categorically, ‘It is my conclusion that the President of the United States was trying to instruct my investigation,’ full stop, that is historic.”
“If he doesn’t say anything categorical, if he says, ‘Well you know, I felt this way, it could have been otherwise’… if it is less than fully clear, then I think it gives both sides a lot of ammunition to argue through the rest of the summer and probably into the fall about what does all this mean.”
There have been reports for several weeks that the former FBI director could end up being the key to Donald Trump’s impeachment. Allan Lichtman, a professor at American University who predicted Trump’s election, said that Trump’s firing of Comey was “much more serious” than Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal and would give immediate grounds for Trump to be impeached for obstruction of justice.
“He arguably could be impeached now,” Lichtman told Newsweek in an interview late last month. “Arguably he’s already obstructed justice and already violated the emoluments clause [regarding receiving gifts from foreign governments]. I’m not saying we should impeach him now, I’m calling for an impeachment investigation.”
But Lichtman said be believes Donald Trump may not make it long enough to be impeached. The American University professor said Trump’s history of “avoiding accountability” through his business career make it likely that Trump will simply resign to avoid accountability again.
[Featured Image by Zach Gibson/Getty Images]