Saturday, May 13, 2017
"The timing of President Donald Trump’s dinner with FBI Director James Comey raises the question of whether the president attempted to—or did in fact—interfere with an ongoing FBI investigation. And that’s a federal offense.
The episode in question occurred in the earliest days of the Trump administration. Within days of Trump’s start at the White House, the Justice Department had reason to believe that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have been compromised by the Russians. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on January 24.
On January 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates rushed to the White House to tell Trump’s top lawyer of the Justice Department’s suspicions. She returned, at the White House counsel’s request, to continue the discussion on January 27.
That same night, the evening of January 27, the president had dinner with Comey, according to James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, who told this to NBC News.
Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor who convicted Scooter Libby for leaking a CIA agent’s name, told The Daily Beast that the context of Trump’s dinner is “really significant.”
“So even if he’s not obstructing an investigation into himself, he may be obstructing an investigation into Flynn,” said Zeidenberg, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
“Asking him for his loyalty, I don’t know if that would qualify as obstruction of justice in and of itself,” Zeidenberg said, adding, “That suggests consciousness of guilt.”
At the time that the president had dinner with the FBI director, it appears that he was aware of the FBI’s interest in Flynn. Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in February, “Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House Counsel of the situation, the White House Counsel briefed the President and a small group of senior advisors.”
In the context of these warnings from the Justice Department about Flynn, Trump reportedly asked Comey at this dinner if he would be loyal to him. According to The New York Times, Comey pledged that he would always be honest, but not politically “reliable.”
Did Donald Trump’s Dinner With FBI Boss James Comey Break the Law?