Washington – Rep. Jim Himes said former FBI Director James Comey’s prepared testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee “should have us all asking a fundamental question about whether we can trust this president to uphold and enforce the laws of the United States.”
“It’s clear to me that Director Comey has been asking himself this very question,” Himes, D-4th District, said.
After the testimony was released Wednesday, though, most fellow Democrats held their fire, awaiting Comey’s questioning Thursday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In his written testimony to that panel, Comey detailed nine separate private conversations with President Donald Trump – three in person and six on the phone.
In those conversations, Comey said Trump repeatedly said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,’’ and asked the former FBI director to “step back” from an investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
“At the very least, President Trump’s actions should instill a sense of profound worry in the American people about a leader with no sense of propriety or an understanding of the need for independence of law enforcement within the executive branch, an independence that has been respected by presidents for generations,” said Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “The testimony, in conjunction with Comey’s firing, also raises the question of whether President Trump was improperly trying to end the investigation into ties between Russia and his campaign affiliates and administration.”
Trump has repeatedly said those close to him have done nothing wrong. In his testimony, Comey confirmed he told Trump he was not under investigation.
Comey said the president asked for help in “lifting the cloud” caused by the FBI’s probe of Russian interference in U.S. elections.
Allegations that Russians may have conspired with Trump associates to influence the U.S. election are under investigation by several congressional committees – the House Intelligence Committee, the House Government Oversight Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee – besides the Senate Intelligence panel. The Justice Department also has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller, to investigate.
A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday said 31 percent of respondents believed Trump did something illegal in his relationship with Russia, while another 29 percent said he did something unethical, but not illegal. Thirty-two percent of the voters said the president did nothing wrong.