Donald Trump is in ‘impeachment territory,’ former Nixon adviser says
U.S. President Donald Trump is in “impeachment territory” following revelations the president reportedly asked former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn, according to a former adviser to several past presidents, including Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.
“I was in the Nixon administration as you know and I thought after watching the Clinton impeachment I thought I’d never see another one,” David Gergen said on CNN Tuesday night. “But I think we’re in impeachment territory now for the first time.”
Gergen made the comments shortly after The New York Times was first to report Comey had noted in a memo Trump had asked him to stop investigating his former national security adviser.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the president told Comey, according to the Times.
An unnamed source also told CNN Comey was “so appalled by the request that he wanted to document it.”
The White House quickly responded, saying it never asked Comey or anyone else to end the investigation into Flynn.
During his CNN discussion, Gergen said the apparent memo shows Trump may have been trying to influence the probe into Flynn’s ties with Russia.
“I’m a lapsed lawyer, I cannot tell you if it meets all the legal definitions but I can tell you from a lay point of view it looks like he was trying to impede the investigation,” Gergen said. “He was using his power to do that and when James Comey didn’t go along with him, when he wasn’t his boy, he fired him which I think is also relevant to the question of what he was trying to do.
“So, from my point of view, this is of enormous consequence for his presidency.”
On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress needs to gather all relevant information before “rushing to judgment.”
“We need the facts. It is obvious there are some people out there that want to harm the president, but we have an obligation to carry out our oversight regardless of which party is in the White House,” Ryan told reporters. “That means before rushing to judgment we get all the pertinent information.”
Ryan noted the oversight committee has requested Comey’s apparent memo.
“I’m sure we are going to go on and hear from Mr. Comey about why if this happens as he allegedly describes, why didn’t he take action at the time. There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Ryan said.
The American Civil Liberties Union says they’ve filed a Freedom of Information Act to view the memo, as well as any other documents related to meetings between Trump and Comey.
“There are serious concerns that the president may have improperly tried to obstruct an FBI investigation. The public has a right to know if that’s true,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project.
Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff suggested Wednesday that Comey should testify in Congress.
“I think we’ll have director Comey come back to the Congress in fairly short order to testify before one committee or another,” Schiff told reporters. “We need to get to the bottom of it and on the broader question people have asked about where does this all lead, I think the we ought to keep our focus on finding out the facts in the first instance and no one ought to, in my view, rush to embrace the most extraordinary remedy that involves the removal of the president from office.”
–with a file from Global News reporter Rebecca Joseph
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