Trump’s Attorney: Comey Leaked Privileged Information; Testimony Proves President Didn’t Impede Russia Investigation

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, said former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony proves the president “was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference.”

Kasowitz issued a statement Thursday afternoon, saying Comey’s testimony “also makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) drove that point home with a question directed at Comey during the hearing.

“Ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation?” Rubio said.

Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that he believed he was fired by the president in some way “to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

“There’s no doubt that it’s a fair judgment, it’s my judgment, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Comey described a meeting with President Trump in which Comey said he asked the FBI director to drop an investigation of former NSA director Michael Flynn.

“I took it as a direction. I mean, this is the President of the United States with me alone, saying, ‘I hope this.’ I took it as, this is what he wants me to do,” Comey said. “I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.”

But as CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) fired, back: “You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what (Trump) said. He said, ‘I hope.’”

Kasowitz said the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.”

“The president never suggested that Mr. Comey ‘let [Michael] Flynn go.’ As the president publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey ‘General Flynn is a good guy, he had been through a lot,'” Kasowitz said.

The attorney also said the president “never told Mr. Comey ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.'”

“He never said it in form and he never said it in substance,” Kasowitz said. “Of course, the office of the president is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration.”

He said it is also “overwhelmingly clear” that there “have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.”

“Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers,” Kasowitz added.

Comey admitted that, after he had been fired, he showed a memo of a conversation he had with the president to a friend, a professor at Columbia Law School, “to share the content of the memo” with the media.

The former FBI director said he did so in response to a tweet from Trump after his firing that said Comey should hope there are “no tapes” of their conversations.

“The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally there might be corroboration, there might be a tape, and I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with the reporter,” he said. “Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

Comey said he understood the memo “to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought it very important to get it out.”

But Kasowitz refuted that claim, saying “the public record reveals the New York Times was quoting from the memos the day before the referenced tweet which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for disclosure of the privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory.”

“We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated,” Kasowitz said.

But U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said while the Senate and the American people are “better informed” as a result of the hearing, it revealed nothing positive about the Trump administration.

“Now, after hearing Mr. Comey’s testimony today, America is stunned. The cloud hanging over this administration has just gotten a whole lot darker.”

Schumer noted that Comey had said Trump appeared to have suggested Comey could keep his job if he prevented the Flynn investigation from going further, which Schumer said “looks a lot like a quid pro quo.”

Schumer also noted that Trump’s legal defense is to “refute Mr. Comey’s account.”

“Well, the president threatened Mr. Comey with the release of tapes of their conversation. Presumably, that includes the conversation when President Trump asked Director Comey to quote, ‘let go,’ unquote, of the Flynn investigation. It’s awfully curious that no one from the president’s team will either confirm or deny the existence of the tapes, when the tapes are the only way to prove that Mr. Comey’s testimony – which came under oath – are false or misleading,” Schumer said.

“President Trump, if you disagree with anything the director said today, play the tapes for all of America to hear, or admit that there were no tapes,” Schumer continued.

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