Comey says if Trump weren’t president, he would be in ‘serious jeopardy’ of being charged
Former FBI Director James Comey said Sunday that if U.S. President Donald Trump were not president, he would be in “serious jeopardy” of being charged.
Comey made the statement in an interview with NBC News political analyst Nicolle Wallace.
Wallace asked that if someone were in court and had “sponsored information that they directed a crime, what would happen to that person?”
Comey responded: “That person would be in serious jeopardy of being charged, because the government wouldn’t make that sponsoring allegation if they weren’t seriously contemplating going forward with criminal charges.
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“Now where it stands here I can’t say,” Comey added.
Prosecutors tied Trump to a federal crime for the first time Friday.
While the Justice Department stopped short of accusing Trump directly of committing a crime, it said in a court filing that Trump told his personal lawyer, Micheal Cohen, to make illegal payments to buy the silence of two women during the 2016 presidential campaign: porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Both women claimed to have affairs with Trump, which threatened his White House campaign. Trump has denied the affairs.
While the documents didn’t accuse Trump of violating the law, it was clear that prosecutors believe Trump was directly involved in Cohen’s alleged illegal actions.
Federal law requires that any payments made “for the purpose of influencing” an election must be reported in campaign finance disclosures.
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Comey also said in the interview with Wallace that Trump’s private request to let former national security adviser Michael Flynn go was “obviously” obstruction of justice.
“At the end [of a meeting], [Trump] kicked everyone out and said he wanted to talk to me alone,” Comey said. “He said he wanted to talk about Mike Flynn. He asked me, which I took as a direction, to let it go. Obviously, it’s evidence of obstruction of justice.”
Comey said that his team decided to keep Trump’s request to drop the Flynn investigation among themselves to not affect the investigation into Flynn.
Flynn was being investigated for his ties to Russia after misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and had been asked to resign days before Trump’s encounter with Comey.
“We decided to keep it tight. We didn’t want [to] infect the investigative team,” Comey said. “We didn’t want them to know the president had just said to drop the investigation and we were not going to abide that direction.”
Legal experts say that Trump could be criminally charged if it could be proven that he had criminal intent and willfully violated the law.
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There is debate whether a sitting president can be indicted, with Justice Department reports in the past saying he can’t because it would put the functioning of the government at risk.
Comey appeared before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee on Friday in a closed-door session.
Trump attacked Comey on Twitter Sunday, saying that he “set a record” for lying to Congress the most in the interview, that his testimony was “untruthful,” and that he had said he “didn’t know,” “didn’t recall” or “couldn’t remember over 200 times.
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Trump fired Comey as FBI Director in May 2017.
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