Donald Trump and his team already seemed prepared to moving towards a contest of credibility with former FBI Director James Comey, but at a White House press conference this afternoon, the president took the dispute to a whole new level.
Comey said he asked Richman to share his notes with the press after Trump tweeted about "tapes" of their White House conversations.
"I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible". Asked if he had taped their conversations, as he implied in a threatening tweet shortly after he fired Comey, Trump said he would reveal that answer soon.
When asked if he would testify under oath to special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is also a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, Trump said: "100 percent". The facts that Comey declined to disclose appears to refer to an ongoing inquiry over whether Sessions failed to disclose a third meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during a April campaign event for then-presidential candidate Trump. It has oversight jurisdiction over the Department of Justice. He painted Trump as a chief executive dismissive of the FBI's independence and made clear that he interpreted Trump's request to end an investigation into the former national security adviser as an order coming from the president.
REPORTER: [Comey] said those things under oath. As he publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, "General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot" and also "asked how is General Flynn is doing".
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Trump lashed out at Comey, dubbing him a "leaker" for indirectly providing reporters with the contents of his memos summarizing their private conversations in the weeks before he was sacked. She called Comey an "honorable individual".
Comey said he refused on all points, told senators of the detailed memos he had written after his conversations with Trump and said he hoped those conversations were taped because he is confident of their veracity. Earlier, in a characteristic early morning tweet, Trump said, "Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication... and WOW, Comey is a leaker!"
His tweet aside, Trump did not mention the Russian Federation probe during an infrastructure speech Friday at the U.S. Transportation Department, but did say he wants people in public service to "rise above the petty partisan squabbling that plagues our nation" and focus on fixing problems.
Trump and aides referenced those comments in claiming vindication, but some officials said Comey's statements that Trump leaned on him to drop the Russian Federation investigation could add up to obstruction of justice. "I'm very anxious about his fitness". After he was sacked, why did he have a friend leak Comey's memo recounting a meeting with Trump instead of just releasing it himself?
Comey also made clear that political entanglement in law enforcement has cut across party lines. But there's also no consensus for the White House position that there's nothing to see here and we should all just move on.