Donald Trump’s presidency has been less than stable thus far, and that is, perhaps, an understatement. Trump and his team have been plagued by rumours and accusations since he announced he would run for office. Some of these have been ridiculous fairy tales invented by political opponents; others have been worryingly likely with ominous consequences. The worst of these accusations is that of Trump’s involvement with Russia.
For months, there have been leaks and anonymous tips suggesting that Donald Trump and his team have ties to Russia and its government. These rumours were exacerbated when former British intelligence officer, Christian Steele, published a dossier of concerns regarding Russia’s relationship with the president. The dossier made many wild claims that most people disregarded as nonsense, until FBI Director James Comey revealed in March that the FBI had begun to investigate the efforts of the Trump campaign in working with Russia to win the American election.
‘there have been leaks and anonymous tips suggesting that Donald Trump and his team have ties to Russia and its government’.
Less than two months later, Trump fired Comey, citing advice from his Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Then, days later, he claimed that the decision had been made due to the Russia investigation. The President firing the FBI Director in order to impede an FBI investigation so as to prevent criminal prosecution of the President may as well be the dictionary definition of obstruction of justice.
Since his removal from the FBI, Comey has testified in both an open and closed setting for the Senate Intelligence Committee. During the open hearing, Comey revealed that he documented every conversation he had with the President as he was ‘concerned [Trump] would lie about the nature of [their] meetings’. This assessment of Trump’s character is damning enough – Comey obviously felt that Trump would not only be willing to to lie, but also have the motive.
The conversation which took place to give Comey this impression concerned Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. It was known that Flynn was under investigation by the FBI, and, according to Comey, Trump made it clear that Flynn was ‘a good guy’ and he ‘hoped [Comey] could let this go’. Comey took these comments as an instruction by the President to close the investigation, which he ignored. There has been debate about whether the word ‘hope’ constitutes an instruction; it is laughable to suggest that the President making a hope of his clear, would not constitute the equivalent of an instruction.
Another conversation that Comey disclosed to the Senate Intelligence Committee took place over a dinner and concerned Comey’s relationship with the President. According to Comey, Trump requested Comey’s loyalty as FBI Director, which he refused to give, instead promising to be honest. The President’s request for loyalty from the director of the FBI breaches established protocol and countless norms. For there to be confidence in the Trump administration, people must be able to believe that those holding these officials to account are capable of being politically independent of the administration, a distinction Trump is obviously keen to avoid. Comey’s reluctance to pledge his loyalty to Trump may well have been an additional contributor to the President’s decision to remove Comey from his position.
‘comey has redeemed himself and proven himself to be a man of integrity and honour’.
All of the information we have received from Comey’s testimony must be examined in its context to ensure fairness and integrity. It is one man’s word. But the man was the director of the FBI for four years, and under oath. Fortunately, the information that Comey relayed in the open hearing is supposedly corroborated in his contemporaneous memos that he made following each encounter with the President. Thus far, these memos have only been available to the FBI, and leaked to the press – a leak that Comey has since taken responsibility for. The memos will no doubt be crucial evidence in the investigation into Russia’s attempts to impact the election and any ties with the Trump campaign as FBI agents’ memos have often been used as admissible evidence.
What Comey denied, but has since become unclear about, is whether Trump himself is under investigation. Comey made clear in his hearing that Trump’s campaign was under investigation, whilst the President himself was not (during Comey’s tenure as Director). However, since Comey’s hearing, it has come to light that Trump may now personally be under investigation by Rob Mueller, the special counsel assigned to investigate Russia’s influence on the election. The focus shifting onto President Trump has been put forward by anonymous sources, disputed by Trump’s personal lawyer, and confirmed on Twitter by Trump himself… so it remains a mystery.
‘Trump may now personally be under investigation by Rob Mueller’.
Whether or not the President is under investigation currently, it is just a matter of time. Rob Mueller has access to James Comey’s memos, as well as all of the information Comey and others had held prior to Comey’s dismissal. The President either is currently or will soon be under investigation, and that is primarily thanks to James Comey. For a man who came under fire for his actions regarding the Clinton email investigation, he has redeemed himself and proven himself to be a man of integrity and honour, no doubt a man that history will look back on as being on the right side of the Trump-Russia scandal that we are currently living in.