It’s never the crime, so the Washington saying goes, but the coverup that gets you in trouble. Ever since he unceremoniously fired James Comey over the Russia investigation, Trump and his administration have not only had to combat allegations about inappropriate contact with Russia but that he attempted to obstruct justice by firing Comey. And, it appears, Trump may face testimony from nearly the entire upper ranks of the FBI.
Vox is reporting that in May, the acting head of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, allegedly informed most of the FBI’s top officials that they should prepare at the very least to be interviewed by Mueller, and that witnesses would include even the man who appointed Mueller:
Among those who McCabe and other law enforcement officials have privately believed are potential witnesses are six of the highest-ranking officials of the agency: They include McCabe himself; Jim Rybicki, Comey’s chief of staff; James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI; David Bowditch, who as the FBI’s associate director is the agency’s third highest official; Carl Ghattas, the head of the FBI’s national security division, and a legal adviser to McCabe… Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and a third senior Justice Department official are believed by law enforcement officials to be crucial fact witnesses in the obstruction probe. Their testimony is likely to support Comey and harm Trump, according to investigators and outside experts.
The FBI witnesses will discuss meetings Comey held after he spoke with Trump, briefing them on Trump’s remarks. In addition, anybody present at those meetings would take notes, giving Mueller a way to compare Comey’s notes against what he told his senior staff. This is a particular problem for the White House, which has been insisting that this is a simple “he said/he said” case and that obstruction would be difficult to prove. In at least one case, Comey was forced to take a phone call from Trump while in a meeting with Rybicki, which offers independent confirmation of behavior, and the fact that Comey made sure that dates, times, and points of discussion were so well documented is another problem.
In short, increasingly the case looks like a matter of the word of longtime, senior FBI officials against Trump’s. It may soon only be a question of when, not if, Trump will have to testify about his actions.