Friday, July 21, 2017

James Comey

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FBI Boss
"Time to box up the old boss' stuff... into the evidence collection van"

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the position of Director FBI, Chris Wray, seemed to be providing constant reassurances to lawmakers that he would head the agency with independence from the White House.

Wray, 50, while talking to lawmakers, said that the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections which is being conducted by congressional committees as well as the FBI, is not a “witch hunt,” as President Trump described it earlier.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray told committee members that he would, as much as he can, avoid one-on-one meetings with President Trump. He also reassured the lawmakers that he would resign before doing anything unlawful.

“First, I would try to talk him out of it, and if that failed, then I would resign,” he said.

“Anybody who thinks I would be pulling punches as the FBI director sure doesn’t know me very well,” he said earlier.

A former senior figure in the Justice Department in former President George W. Bush’s administration, Wray is being seen as a quite uncontroversial pick to replace the recently dismissed James Comey.

However, Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee has become quite a high priority matter because of the timing and controversies of Comey’s dismissal.

Following Comey’s dismissal, President Trump said that the bureau’s investigation into his campaign’s alleged ties with Moscow was on his mind when he fired Comey.

Comey then testified before the Congress in a public hearing, saying that Trump demanded political loyalty and constantly pressed him on the Russian investigation. The investigation has since been handed over to special counsel Robert Mueller.

“All of this raises important questions for the next FBI head and particularly for his independence,” said Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) ranking member. “The FBI director does not serve the president. He serves the Constitution and the American people.”

As for Wray, he continued to reinstate his beliefs and principles and vowed that his loyalty is and would remain to the American people and the Constitution.

“I think the relationship between any FBI director and any president needs to be a professional one, not a social one,” he added later. “And there certainly shouldn’t be any discussion between the FBI director and any president about how to conduct particular investigations or cases.”

He assured that any attempt to “tamper with” Mueller’s investigation would be “unacceptable and inappropriate.” He further said that he would, through appropriate channels, notify the committee if any such thing was to come to his knowledge.

“I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” he said.

Wray then went to tell lawmakers that he had not been asked by anyone in the administration to pledge any kind of allegiance of loyalty throughout his confirmation process. He reassured the lawmakers, saying, “And I sure as heck wouldn’t offer one.”

Indirectly criticizing former Director Comey’s move to publicly announce that there would be no charges in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, he said, “I can’t imagine a situation where I would be giving a press conference on an uncharged individual.”

Wray’s commitment to the DOJ’s principles and rules seems to have become an especially high-stakes affair following the bureau’s entanglement in political controversies since the 2016 presidential elections.

“I don’t think the FBI is a political body, not the rank-and-file members. But I worry about the perception that some Americans might have,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.).

What could be called the most interesting moment of Wray’s hearing before the committee, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.) questioned the president’s nominee on his take on the recently published emails between Trump Jr. and an intermediary for a Russian lawyer claiming to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

“You’re going to be the director of the FBI, pal,” Graham cut in. “So here’s what I want you to tell every politician: If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.”

“To the members of this committee, any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state or any non-state actor is the kind of the thing the FBI would want to know,” Wray replied.

Apart from the controversial questions on the ongoing Russian investigation, Wray answered several questions related to the major challenges being faced by the bureau today.

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Comey Memos
"Excuse me, I gotta go make a leak, er, um... take a leak"

The heat has been cranked up on former FBI Director, James Comey, as per the latest report by intelligence officials, half the information that was in the Comey memos was classified. This comes on the back of increasing accusations of partisanship layered onto Comey, since he was ousted by Trump in May. There was huge controversy on the charges Comey faced regarding his incompetence over the Clinton investigation, but it seems that he has a track record of failing in his administrative duties.

It has come to light at four of the seven memos that were introduced in front of Congress, had been marked ‘confidential’ or ‘secret’, and questions are being raised now as to why Comey introduced them in his testimony. Comey tried to defend his decisions by claiming that these were all recollections of recorded conversations with Trump, and he thought it important to show it to Congress.

He also claimed that he had also prepared unclassified memos of his conversations about Flynn, and had also discussed the issue with senior FBI leadership. He had made personal records of the documents, and then decided to share them with Donald Richman, a Colombia professor and close friend, with the intention to leak them to the New York Times. This was a very convenient attempt to smear the President, which came right after Comey was fired.

Incompetence in Administrative Duties

He had also previously refused to follow strict government protocol, when he was investigating the Clinton server scandal, and carried it over to other administrative duties. He publicly claimed that he had been very careless when handling, highly classified and sensitive information during the Clinton investigation.

Comey had no qualms about breaking rules and doing things his own way, with no regard for proper government protocol, and his eagerness to get his story in the public eye could yet land him in trouble. He didn’t manage to do much damage to Trump in his testimony, and the biggest news that came out of the hearing, was his admission that President Trump had never been the under investigation of the FBI.

This seemed like a poor attempt by the liberals to try and force an impossible impeachment, but it seems that the heavy hitters have fallen well short of the mark, and ruined their own credibility in the process.

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investigation
Wait! Someone in the government did something illegal?

At least half of the information contained within the infamous Comey memos may well have been classified, according to a bombshell new report citing intelligence officials.

The former FBI head has been the subject of growing controversy and accusations of partisanship since his May ousting by the Trump administration. And it now seems that charges levied against Comey, on the mishandling of the Clinton investigation, may be well in line with a track record of failures in properly administering his duty.

Four of seven memos brought before congress are now said to have been marked “secret” or “confidential”, this flies in the face of Comey’s testimony where, when questioned as to the nature of his very public revelations, he stated.

“I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”

He then went on to detail how quickly he moved to capitalize on private conversations he held with the president saying,

“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership…”

 “My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

After making sure to make a personal record of these documents, he then saw fit to share at least one through close friend and Colombia professor Donald Richman with the explicit intention of leaking them to the New York Times. Rather coincidentally, this attempt at smearing the President came shortly after Comey’s firing.

The casual improprieties and arrogant refusals to adhere to strict government regulations were eerily echoed in the Clinton server scandal which had been Comey’s earlier undoing. In fact, in a statement he had released about that investigation Comey had said,

“There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

It seems that Comey played fast and loose with those same restrictions when it came to getting his side of the story in the public eye. Not that it did much good, though the hopes of Russia conspiracy theorists had been pinned on the testimony. The biggest revelation that came out of the intense congressional panel was the grudging admission that President Trump had not now, nor ever been the subject of an FBI investigation.

Is this another falling domino in the loopy conspiracy liberals have put together to try and force through an impossible impeachment? With heavy hitters falling left and right, whose credibility will they put on the line next? While Trump’s resolve has yet to waver it seems his accusers find themselves on increasingly shaky ground.

 

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Committee Hearing
"This is no summer BBQ, we are grill masters of a different sort..."

Next week, Trump’s nominee for the position of Director FBI, Christopher Wray will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The notification of the hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled for Wednesday morning, was sent out by Senator Chuck Grassley, who is currently chairman of the committee.

Late last week, Grassley told the press that he planned on holding a confirmation hearing for Wray sometime this month so that he could get the Senate’s confirmation before lawmakers left the capital for the August break.

“It’s been my intention of having the nominee before the committee during the month of July and hopefully get it done in time so that he can be confirmed before our summer break,” Grassley said while talking to the press.

Following his meeting last with Trump’s nominee to lead the bureau, Grassley, who will maneuver Wray through the Senate, marked the beginning of Wray’s uphill battle on Capitol Hill to woo lawmakers.

Almost a month after Trump fired James Comey from his position of Director FBI for allegedly not being capable enough to handle the bureau’s investigation into relation between the Trump campaign and Russia and Moscow’s interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, he nominated Wray for the position.

Under former President George W. Bush, Wray was in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division working in the capacity of an assistant attorney general. He also handled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s (R) Bridgegate scandal. Analysts believe he will be grilled for the case during his confirmation hearing.

Democrats heavily criticized Trump for dismissing Comey. However, they seemed to be supportive of Wray’s nomination to replace Comey.

Following the announcement, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted, “FBI nominee Wray has solid credentials — now this job will require independence & guts to stand up to political interference.”

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Trump Twitter
A lack of filter can be good, unless we are talking about covfefe, er, coffee...

Jonah Goldberg and Mollie Hemingway, got into a heated argument, all because of one tweet from President Donald Trump.

During Thursday’s airing of the show, the two panelists got into a very heated debated.

Discussing a tweet from Trump, “With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…” and “…whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

“It was, it was a bad idea,” Goldberg responded, “and it got him in a lot of trouble. And he’s still trying to back out of it. I gotta say, I don’t really care about the tapes, I always thought it was a bluff, to me it is perfect example of how he tries to run his presidency like a reality show, like wait for the big reveal at the big mid-season break kinda thing.”

“What does bother me about that tweet is his insinuation that it’s entirely plausible that members of the ‘deep state’ or the intelligence community, or law enforcement are bugging the Oval Office without his awareness,” he continued. “And that is a pretty provocative charge to make. I’m sure he’s making it, you know, if he ever gets pushback on it, he’ll say he was just speaking tongue-in-cheek, but I thought that was the more offensive part of it.”

“No, that’s ridiculous,” Hemingway interrupted, “you’ve had nothing but months of leaks from intelligence agencies about people affiliated with the Trump campaign or otherwise, it’s not insane at all to think that there might be surveillance since we’ve seen so many again, unmasked…”

“What allegations that Donald Trump has been surreptitiously recorded without his approval?” Goldberg said.

“What, I mean, the issue with that original tweet is that James Comey had already been leaking to the New York Times,” Hemingway responded, “and he’d been presenting stories as if he was some hero of the conversations he had had with Trump. That tweet actually got James Comey to admit that he did three times tell Donald Trump that he wasn’t under investigation. It got him to admit that he did say Mike Flynn was a good guy when he was asked about it by the president. And it did get him to admit also that he pledged his honest loyalty to Donald Trump which is contrary to what he had said to the New York Times the day before that.”

“It also got him a special prosecutor,” Goldberg responded.

“I think it’s naive to think that that would have not happened otherwise,” Hemingway said. “James Comey was clearly laying a groundwork in a campaign through his leaking and it’s kind of rewriting history.”

“That’s possible,” Goldberg allowed. “That’s possible, but my point still stands. There’s no evidence whatsoever that anyone was bugging or wiretapping the Oval Office or the President of the United States without his awareness.”

‘There was a lot of leaking…” Hemingway intervened.

“Leaking is not bugging!” Goldberg shot back.

“…of taped conversations,” Hemingway continued, “for a group of people that are not doing a lot of surveillance.”

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Comey Deleted
When will Trump start calling this guy "Shady James Comey"

Judicial Watch today announced it sent Acting FBI Director Andrew G. McCabe a warning letter concerning the FBI’s legal responsibility under the Federal Records Act (FRA) to recover records, including memos Comey subsequently leaked to the media, unlawfully removed from the Bureau by former Director James Comey. The June 14 letter from Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton states:

As you are well aware, former FBI Director James Comey gave sworn testimony last week before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Among other things, Mr. Comey confirmed that, while in office, he created various memoranda regarding his meetings with President Trump. Mr. Comey also confirmed that, after his departure from the FBI, he provided at least some of these memoranda to a third party, Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, for the purpose of leaking them to the press. Various media outlets now have reported that Professor Richman has provided these memoranda to the FBI. It is unclear whether he still retains copies of the memoranda.

I am writing to you on behalf of Judicial Watch, Inc., a not-for-profit educational organization that seeks to promote transparency, accountability, and integrity in government and fidelity to the rule of law. In furtherance of its public interest mission, Judicial Watch regularly requests access to the records of the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act and disseminates its findings to the public. In fact, on May 16, 2017, Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request seeking these specific memoranda removed from the FBI by Mr. Comey. Judicial Watch also has pending FOIA lawsuits in which the memoranda may be at issue.

These memoranda were created by Mr. Comey while serving as FBI director, were written on his FBI laptop, and concerned official government business. As such, they indisputably are records subject to the Federal Records Act. 44 U.S.C. §§ 2101-18, 2901-09, 3101-07, and 3301-14. The fact that Mr. Comey removed these memoranda from the FBI upon his departure, apparently for the purpose of subsequently leaking them to the press, confirms the FBI’s failure to retain and properly manage its records in accordance with the Federal Records Act. Even if Mr. Comey no longer has possession of these particular memoranda, as he now claims, some or all of these memoranda may still be in possession of a third party, such as Professor Richman, and must be recovered. Mr. Comey’s removal of these memoranda also suggests that other records may have been removed by Mr. Comey and may remain in his possession or in the possession of others. If so, these records must be recovered by the FBI as well.

As you may be aware, the Federal Records Act imposes a direct responsibility on you to take steps to recover any records unlawfully removed from the FBI. Specifically, upon learning of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction of records in the custody of the agency,” you must notify the Archivist of the United States. 44 U.S.C. § 3106. Upon learning that records have been unlawfully removed from the FBI, you then are required to initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records. Id.

In the event you fail to take these steps, you should be aware that Judicial Watch is authorized under the law to file a lawsuit in federal district court seeking that you be compelled to comply with the law. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Kerry, 844 F.3d 952, 955 (D.C. Cir. 2016); Armstrong v. Bush, 924 F.2d 282,296 (D.C. Cir. 1991). Please advise us no later than June 26, 2017 if you intend to take the action required under the law. If we do not hear from you by that date, we will assume that you do not intend to take any action. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

“Mr. Comey took government records and the FBI and Justice Department are obligated to get them back,” added Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “The former FBI director isn’t above the law and current leadership of the FBI should stop protecting him and take action.”

Judicial Watch is pursuing a lawsuit challenging the State Department’s failure to take any action to recover emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other employees unlawfully removed from the agency seeks to force State Department compliance with the Federal Records Act (FRA).  Judicial Watch argues the State Department and FBI never bothered to do a full search for Hillary Clinton’s government emails. This is one of several of Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuits seeking government records and information about the non-government email system used by Clinton.

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Sessions Testifies
Sick of the partisan witch-hunt Jeff? So are we!

In what seemed to a pretty intense combative interaction, during Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden asked him why he had recommended the dismissal of James Comey. Sessions was also accused by the senator of “stonewalling” the bureau’s investigation into Russian collusion.

“I believe the American people have had it with stonewalling,” Wyden began. “The American people don’t want to hear that answers relevant questions are privileged and off limits. Or that they can’t be provided in public, or that it would be ‘inappropriate’ for witnesses to tell us what they know.”

“We are talking about an attack on our democratic institutions,” he continued, “and stonewalling of any kind is unacceptable. And General Sessions has acknowledged that there is no legal basis for this stonewalling.”

“So now to questions,” Wyden said, “last Thursday I asked former Director Comey about the FBI’s interactions with you, General Sessions, prior to stepping aside from the Russian investigation. Mister Comey said that your continued engagement with the Russian investigation was ‘problematic.’ And he, Mr. Comey, could not discuss it in public.”

“Mr. Comey also said that FBI personally had been calling for you to step aside from the investigation at least two weeks before you finally did so,” he added. “Now in your prepared statement you stated you received only ‘limited information necessary to inform your recusal decision.’ but given Director Comey’s statement, we need to know what that was.”

“Where you aware of any concerns at the FBI or elsewhere in government about your contacts with the Russians,” Wyden asked, “or any other matters relevant to whether you should step aside from the Russian investigation?”

“Senator Wyden,” Sessions answered forcefully, “I am not stonewalling.”

“I am following the historic policies of the Department of Justice,” he explained. “You don’t walk into any hearing or committee meeting and reveal confidential communications with the president of the United States, who’s entitled to receive confidential communications in your best judgement about a host of issues. And after being accusing of stonewalling for not answering, so I would push back on that.”

“Secondly, Mr. Comey, perhaps he didn’t know,” Sessions continued, “but I basically recused myself the day, the first day I got into office, because I never accessed files, I never learned the names of investigators, I never met with them, I never asked for any documentation, the documentation of what little I received was mostly already available in the media and was presented by the senior ethics public responsibility, professional responsibility attorney in the department.”

“General Sessions,” Wyden said after some disagreement, “respectfully, you’re not answering the question.”

“Well what is the question?” Sessions demanded.

“The question is, Mr. Comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn’t talk about them. What are they?”

“I, why don’t you tell me? They are none, Senator Wyden!” Sessions angrily responded. “There are none! I can tell you that for absolute certainty.”

 

“You, this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me,” Sessions accused. “And I don’t appreciate it. And I tried to give my best and truthful answers to any committee I’ve appeared before, and it’s really a, people are suggesting through innuendo that I have been not honest about matters and I’ve tried to be honest.”

“I want to ask you point blank,” Wyden continued, “why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of Director Comey when it violated your recusal?”

“It did not violate my recusal,” Sessions responded loudly. “It did not violate my recusal. That would be the answer to that, and the letter that I signed represented my views that had been formulated for some time.”

“That answer in my view doesn’t pass the smell test,” Wyden challenged him. “The president tweeted repeatedly about his anger about investigations into his associates and Russia. The day before you wrote your letter he tweeted, ‘the collusion story was a total hoax,’ and asked, ‘when will this tax-payer funded charade end?” I don’t think your answer passes the smell test.”

In response, Sessions made it clear that the letter he wrote only represented his views regarding the situation in question. In a testimony earlier, Sessions stated that he would not be answering certain questions to protect the possibility that President Trump may use his executive privilege in the future.

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Mueller Investigation
Are the Investigation's days numbered?

Newsmax CEO and a close friend of President Donald Trump, Chris Ruddy has said that the president is thinking about dismissing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed just last month to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

While speaking to Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour, Ruddy said that he thinks the president is weighing that option.

“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” he said. “I think he’s weighing that option. I think it’s very clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.

“I personally think it would be a very significant mistake,” Ruddy continued, “even though I don’t think there’s a justification … for a special counsel in this case.”

“I mean Robert Mueller, there’s some real conflicts,” he explained. “He comes from a law firm that represents members of the Trump family. He interviewed the day before a few days before he was appointed special counsel with the president who was looking at him potentially to become the next FBI director. That hasn’t been published but it’s true.”

“But I think it would be strange that he would have a confidential conversation and then a few days later become prosecutor of the person he would be investigating,” he added. “I think that Mueller should not have taken the position if he was under consideration and had a private meeting with the president and was privy maybe to some of his thoughts about that investigation or other matters before the bureau.”

CNBC journalist Kayla Tausche saw Ruddy leave the White House before making the news on Monday morning.

However, White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee says, “Chris speaks for himself.”

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (Cali.) posted on Twitter regarding the claim, “If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don’t waste our time.”

Journalists and experts have also noted that Trump’s close aide Newt Gingrich has also publicly denounced Mueller after lauding him when he was initially chosen as the special counsel.

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James Comey
You done goofed James!

Sunday morning saw President Donald Trump go on the offensive to accuse James Comey, the former director of the FBI, of being “very cowardly.” According to Trump, in what could be an illegal move, Comey acted cowardly by leaking memos of their conversations to the press, while he was serving as Director FBI.

“I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!’”

The Senate Intelligence Committee had Comey testify on Thursday, regarding his dismissal, the probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, and Trump’s potential obstruction of justice when he possibly directed Comey to downplay the probe into his former national security advisor General Mike Flynn.

However, one of the most noteworthy revelations from Comey’s testimony was that he admitted to leaking memos that contained his discussions with Trump while he was in office, to the press, specifically the New York Times.

On Friday, the American Center for Law and Justice’s chief counsel, wrote that Comey’s leaks were clearly illegal.

“Comey – the nation’s top intelligence official – admitted under oath that he leaked privileged documents to a friend to give to reporters at the New York Times,” Sekulow wrote in the article. “Memos that he had written in the course of his official government duties about privileged conversations with the President. The reason: Comey testified that he did so to manipulate the situation and force the appointment of a Special Counsel. (And, as we know – that’s ultimately what occurred.)”

“Comey’s admission that he is a leaker also raises serious legal questions,” Sekulow also wrote later in his article. “In my view, Comey broke the law: 18 U.S.C. § 641 provides that it is a federal crime to, without authority, convey a record of the United States, in this case an FBI record he admits under oath he leaked after being fired.”

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hypocrisy

On Wednesday’s airing of “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Charles Krauthammer suggested that President Trump shouldn’t really be surprised by the Democratic decries over his firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

“It’s surprising that he should be surprised,” Krauthammer said. “These people are hypocrites from the day of their birth. It’s in their DNA. That’s how they function. It was to be expected.”

He continued, “Yes, you say you want Comey to be fired one day, and then as soon as he gets fired, you attack the man who does it, but that’s normal.”

Talking about the “hypocrisy of the Democrats,” simply said that “Democrat’s don’t like this guy,” referring to Trump.

“The Democrats are looking for an excuse to say that there’s a great collusion conspiracy, and this is all being done in defense of that conspiracy — which I think remains implausible,” he said, “because if that was the intent of the Trump administration, it’s a colossal mistake. It had the opposite effect.”

In a move that shocked the Republicans, Democrats, and the entire county, President Trump dismissed Comey from his position on Tuesday night.

A statement from the White House read:

“Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.”

In addition to the President’s statement, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement that seemed to support the president’s decision.

“I know this was a difficult decision for all concerned. I appreciate Director Comey’s service to our nation in a variety of roles.”

“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests.”

 

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