Washington DC, Jun 9 (EFE).- The president of the United States on Friday attacked the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the latter testified before a congressional panel.
In one of his characteristic early-morning tweets, Donald Trump accused James Comey of leaking privileged information as well as spreading lies and false statements in his testimony, while at the same time claiming vindication.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication… and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump posted on his personal Twitter account.
This was Trump’s first reaction to Comey’s highly-anticipated testimony on Thursday before the US Senate’s Select Intelligence Committee.
Comey was invited to answer questions from the panel after Trump suddenly fired him from his post _ seven years before his term was set to expire _ on May 9.
It later emerged that Comey had kept a written account of his exchanges with Trump in which there seemed to be evidence that the president attempted to exert pressure on him.
The Committee was interested to hear details of whether Trump had pressed Comey to halt an investigation the FBI had launched into his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia.
According to Comey’s memos, Trump told him during a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 that he needed and expected the director’s loyalty.
Comey replied he could only promise Trump “honesty.”
On Feb. 14, following a counter-terrorism briefing in the Oval Office with top officials and aides _ including Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and Vice President Michael Pence _ Trump asked everybody except Comey to leave the room.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Trump allegedly told Comey when the two were alone.
Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was a prominent member of Trump’s campaign and was later appointed National Security Adviser, despite warnings by then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn was compromised by the Russians.
Flynn is currently the subject of an FBI investigation; he was fired by Trump 24 days after the inauguration for misleading Pence and failing to disclose the nature and content of his contacts with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, in which he allegedly promised to lift US sanctions on Russia.
Democratic Party officials have lambasted Trump’s actions, which some said could amount to obstruction of justice.
Two Democratic lawmakers, Al Green (Texas) and Brad Sherman (California), said they were drafting articles of impeachment in the House of Representatives.
Green said it was “indisputable fact” that Trump obstructed justice in his firing of Comey in an effort to stop “this Russia thing,” in the president’s own alleged words to the former top law enforcement official.
“The impeachment process will bring him to justice; it’s the remedy for obstruction of justice,” said Green.
On the other hand, Sen. Kamala Harris (California) on Thursday criticized Trump’s alleged demand for a personal loyalty pledge, adding that Comey only owed an oath to the Constitution; however, she stopped short of describing it as obstruction.
“The oath was to the Constitution of the United States, not to an individual. It’s completely inappropriate,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) said that Trump’s actions were a result of him being politically inexperienced.
“The president’s new at this,” said Ryan. “He’s new to government.”
“So, he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between the Department of Justice, the FBI and the White House,” Ryan added. “He’s just new to this.”
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly criticized then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for meeting on an airport tarmac with former President Bill Clinton, while Hillary Clinton _ his spouse _ was being investigated for her use of a private email server.
Following Comey’s testimony, Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, released a statement in which he said that the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” including Flynn.
“As he said yesterday, the President feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda with this public cloud removed,” Kasowitz said.