Here We Go: James Comey To Testify On Alleged Trump Confrontations Over Flynn Investigation

Matt Vespa
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Posted: May 31, 2017 3:10 PM
Here We Go: James Comey To Testify On Alleged Trump Confrontations Over Flynn Investigation

As early as next week, former FBI Director James Comey plans to testify publicly before the Senate about the alleged times the president tried to pressure him into ending an ongoing federal investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Mr. Comey drafted a memo on the times he felt the president acted improperly in trying to influence an ongoing investigation. Fox News has confirmed the memo’s existence, though we have yet to read its contents. The Flynn investigation is different than the one about Russian collusion, though Flynn’s ties to the country serves as the nexus from which Democrats have lobbed obstruction of justice allegations against the president. President Trump fired Mr. Comey earlier this month; some are saying it was to impede the investigation. The president admitted in his meeting with the Russians the day after he fired Mr. Comey that dismissing him relieved him of some pressure, and that the former FBI director was a “nut job.”

Mr. Comey is working with special counsel Robert Mueller on the parameters of his testimony to avoid legal entanglements, reports CNN:

Final details are still being worked out and no official date for his testimony has been set. Comey is expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during last year's presidential election.

Comey has spoken privately with Special Counsel Robert Mueller III to work out the parameters for his testimony to ensure there are no legal entanglements as a result of his public account, a source said. Comey will likely sit down with Mueller, a longtime colleague at the Justice Department, for a formal interview only after his public testimony.

When he testifies, Comey is unlikely to be willing to discuss in any detail the FBI's investigation into the charges of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign -- the centerpiece of the probe, this source said. But he appears eager to discuss his tense interactions with Trump before his firing, which have now spurred allegations that the president may have tried to obstruct the investigation. If it happens, Comey's public testimony promises to be a dramatic chapter in the months-long controversy, and it will likely bring even more intense scrutiny to an investigation that Trump has repeatedly denounced as a "witch hunt."

The appointment of Mueller as a special counsel in the Russia investigation had raised concerns among some members of Congress that his probe could scuttle the chance for Congress and the public to hear directly from Comey. That appears less likely now that Mueller and Comey have discussed the limits of his testimony.

Concerning the obstruction of justice claims and the Russia collusion allegations, avowed liberal and Hillary Clinton supporter Alan Dershowitz said that a) Trump did not obstruct justice; and b) he doesn't see evidence of a crime being committed by the president.

Dershowitz's op-ed in the Washington Examiner on the obstruction of justice allegations:

A dangerous argument is now being put forward by some Democratic ideologues: namely that President Trump should be indicted for the crime of obstructing justice because he fired FBI Director James Comey. Whatever one may think of the president's decision to fire Comey as a matter of policy, there is no legitimate basis for concluding that the president engaged in a crime by exercising his statutory and constitutional authority to fire director Comey. As Comey himself wrote in his letter to the FBI, no one should doubt the authority of the president to fire the director for any reason or no reason.

It should not be a crime for a public official, whether the president or anyone else, to exercise his or her statutory and constitutional authority to hire or fire another public official. For something to be a crime there must be both an actus reus and mens rea – that is, a criminal act accompanied by a criminal state of mind.

Even assuming that Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone should never constitute a crime. There should have to be an unlawful act. And exercising constitutional and statutory power should not constitute the actus reus of a crime. Otherwise the crime would place the defendant's thoughts on trial, rather than his actions.