There will be plenty of hot takes on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. Here’s a quick list of three “bombshells” from today’s testimony:
1. The Infamous Tarmac Meeting Prompted Comey to Issue His July 5th Statement
Comey testified that the tarmac meeting between then-AG Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton influenced his decision to publicly declare the findings of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. His rationale was that this meeting created the appearance of a conflict of interest on the part of Lynch, and his issuing a statement on the matter was an effort to blunt that.
Not only that, he revealed that, as he was preparing to testify in Congress regarding that investigation, Lynch admonished him to refer to it as a “matter,” rather than an “investigation.” Even though it was a criminal investigation. This “confused and concerned” him.
2. The Most Important Aspect (to Trump) Is the One Piece of Information Which Wasn’t Leaked.
As he did in his written remarks released yesterday, Comey confirmed that he assured Trump on three occasions that he was not personally under investigation. After Trump requested that he make a public announcement to that effect, discussions were held with the FBI leadership team about whether this should be done and ultimately, it was concluded that it should not be, in part, because it might trigger a duty to make a further public declaration if that ever changed. (And we know how well that went for Comey with the Clinton e-mail investigation.)
Senator Marco Rubio made a pointed observation about this during his inquiry:
3. Comey Leaked His Memos Via a Friend.
Comey also acknowledged that he leaked his memos to the press via a friend in the hopes that it would lead to the appointment of Special Counsel:
James Comey says he asked a friend to leak memo of conversations with Trump to spark a special counsel appointment. https://t.co/4uBShnyA7k
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 8, 2017
There were other interesting tidbits from today’s testimony. For instance, Comey had no compunction about calling Trump a liar and, in fact, indicated he made a point to memorialize their interactions for that very reason. Comey stressed that many of the news reports involving leaks of classified information have been incorrect. Also, Senator John McCain seems to have been a bit…confused during his questioning of Comey today. Lastly, Comey thinks very highly of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and appears confident that he will get to the bottom of this — whatever this ultimately ends up being.
All in all, it was an interesting session, even if it doesn’t answer all the questions swirling around the Trump administration, Comey’s dismissal, and the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the election.