Donald Trump calls James Comey ‘leaker’, claims vindication

  • IANS

    IANS | Washington

    June 9, 2017 | 4:02 pm

US President Donald Trump (Photo: AFP)

US President Donald Trump on Friday attacked former FBI Director James Comey after he testified before a congressional panel on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

In a Friday morning tweet, Trump accused Comey of leaking privileged information as well as spreading lies and false statements in his testimony, while at the same time claiming vindication.

"Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication… and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" Trump said on Twitter.

This was Trump's first reaction to Comey's highly-anticipated testimony on Thursday before the US Senate's Select Intelligence Committee, Efe news reported.

Comey was invited to answer questions from the panel after Trump suddenly fired him from his post, seven years before his term was set to expire, on May 9.

It later emerged that Comey had kept a written account of his exchanges with Trump in which there seemed to be evidence that the president attempted to exert pressure on him.

The Committee was interested to hear details of whether Trump had pressed Comey to halt an investigation the Federal Bureau of Investigation had launched into his campaign's possible coordination with Russia.

According to Comey's memos, Trump told him during a private dinner at the White House on Jan. 27 that he needed and expected the director's loyalty.

Comey replied he could only promise Trump "honesty."

On February 14, following a counter-terrorism briefing in the Oval Office with top officials and aides, including Attorney General Jefferson Sessions and Vice President Michael Pence, Trump asked everybody except Comey to leave the room.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go," Trump allegedly told Comey when the two were alone.

Michael Flynn, the former Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, was a prominent member of Trump's campaign and was later appointed National Security Adviser, despite warnings by then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn was compromised by the Russians.

Flynn is currently the subject of an FBI investigation. He was fired by Trump 24 days after the inauguration for misleading Pence and failing to disclose the nature and content of his contacts with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

Democratic Party officials lambasted Trump's actions, which some said could amount to obstruction of justice.

Senator Kamala Harris criticised Trump's alleged demand for a personal loyalty pledge, adding that Comey only owed an oath to the Constitution; she stopped short of describing it as obstruction.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) said that Trump's actions were a result of him being politically inexperienced.

Following Comey's testimony, Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said that the President "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Comey stop investigating anyone," including Flynn.

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