James Comey claims, Trump asked for "loyalty" during one meeting and asked Comey to help end the FBI's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the other. Comey was fired by Trump shortly thereafter. During his written and opening statements, and subsequent Q&A with members of the Committee, Comey charged the Trump Administration with having "defamed" both him and the FBI, and lying about the reason for his firing, which he characterizes as an attempt to scuttle the Bureau's counter-intelligence probe into alleged Team Trump coordination with Russia both before and after last year's election.
Following today's testimony, Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz claimed, once again, that Comey's testimony "completely vindicated" his client, and he otherwise vehemently rejected the assertion that Trump either demanded Comey's "loyalty" or sought to shut down the Flynn investigation.
Joining us for full analysis today is journalist and author Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.net. She offers a comparison to the breadth of this widening scandal and others she's covered in the past, such as the deliberate outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame during the George W. Bush Administration. "Dick Cheney was just so much more effective at coverup and abuse of power than Trump is," Wheeler quips.
Among many other points in our discussion today, Wheeler responds to Kasowitz' charge that Comey made "unauthorized disclosures of privileged communications" (he didn't, she explains); details the new revelations from Comey's testimony regarding his various meetings with the President and his contemporaneous documentation of those meetings; potential legal exposure for Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence in this matter; whether we should have confidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's oversight of the still-widening probe; whether Trump himself is now being investigated for obstruction of justice (she says it's "clear" that he now is); whether any of it amounts to impeachable offenses; and the possibility — raised several times during today's hearing — that White House audio tapes of the Trump/Comey meetings may exist. "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey declared today.
She also breaks down the bizarre testimony before the same US Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, when the heads of the NSA and DNI, without any apparent legal basis or precedent, refused to answer questions about whether Trump had asked them to intercede into the FBI probe. "Just because Donald Trump is President," Wheeler tells me, "it has not changed the rule that you have Congressional overseers and you answer their questions."
Finally, near the end of today's show, news breaks out of the UK regarding Exit Poll results from Britain's parliamentary election, suggesting a stunning surprise loss of majority power for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and what is likely to be regarded as a huge victory for the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn, sometimes regarded as "Britain's Bernie Sanders".
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