James Comey had long made his intention to testify publicly clear, but members of the House of Representatives nevertheless decided to have his testimony heard on various matters behind closed doors. One day after the hearing which took place on Friday, however, a 235-page transcript from the hearing was released, and it shed a new light on some important details about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to the Atlantic. These are the four most important things which we learned from Comey’s closed-door testimony.
Mueller is pursuing an “obstruction of justice” angle.
Although there has been much talk about the “collusion” angle this week with prosecutors recommending a hefty jail for Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen — in part because of his continuous overtures to Russian officials during the 2016 election — James Comey’s testimony confirmed that Robert Mueller is also investigating the “obstruction of justice” angle with equal interest.
When Republican Trey Gowdy, who became famous for leading a Benghazi investigation, asked Comey if he believed Trump had sufficient reason to fire him, FBI official Cecilia Bessee interrupted the congressman, citing the investigation, and in the process, confirming that the special counsel was indeed pursuing the “obstruction” angle.
“Mr. Chairman, to the extent that question goes — again, goes to the special counsel’s investigation into obstruction, the witness will not be able to answer,” she said.
Comey acknowledged the meeting with Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac was problematic.
Many of us will remember the furor caused by Bill Clinton’s unusual meeting with then-AG Loretta Lynch in June 2016, even as the Justice Department was pursuing an investigation into the use of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and Comey admitted that it was “highly unusual” and “potentially inappropriate.”
This admission is likely to give Republicans and particularly Donald Trump some fresh ammunition for his continued attacks on Clinton and Comey, but nonetheless, it is not something that should surprise us greatly.
Comey defended FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page
One of the biggest criticisms of the Mueller investigation in the conservative media has been the nature of the FBI investigation that preceded it. FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who were also secret lovers, were involved in the investigation into both Hillary Clinton’s emails and Trump team’s alleged connection with Russia. According to texts recovered later, they were known not to like Trump — something which the president has used repeatedly to attack the FBI.
Comey said although it was not right and that he would’ve removed both agents from the aforementioned investigations had he known about the truth, he said he never saw their bias come through their work, which Comey defended as being based on facts. He said Strzok was “very highly regarded as a counterintelligence professional” and “among the best.”
Comey blasted Trump’s characterization of him and Mueller being “best friends”.
Trump has tried to attack the Mueller investigation by alleging that the special counsel and former FBI director James Comey, who first began the investigation into Trump, are close friends and are acting out of a personal agenda against him. Trump has even stated that he could give us “a hundred pictures of him and Comey hugging and kissing each other.”
But Comey blasted that characterization during his testimony, saying that even though he greatly respected Mueller, they had never been great friends.
“I admire the heck out of the man, but I don’t know his phone number, I’ve never been to his house, I don’t know his children’s names. I think I had a meal once alone with him in a restaurant. We’re not friends in any social sense,” Comey said.