Donald Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, wasted no time in responding to James Comey’s Thursday testimony at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his interactions with the president. In fact, he was in such a rush to accuse Comey of improperly spilling goods that he misspelled “president” as “predisent.” He did so in the opening line of a statement that seeks to use Comey’s own testimony against him while shoring up the President’s credibility.
This morning Comey testified regarding a number of stories that the public has partially heard about through the many leaks plaguing the Trump administration. A hotly anticipated one was addressed in Comey’s prepared opening remarks, concerning a loyalty pledge that Comey says Trump demanded at a White House dinner.
Comey described under oath a January 27th dinner in the Green Room at the White House. “My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship,” said Comey. “That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.”
Comey says that he tried to make clear to the President that he would remain independent. “I added that I was not ‘reliable’ in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. A few moments later, the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.'”
The next part of Kasowitz’s statement goes on to describe Comey’s admitted leak of the memos he wrote describing the Green Room conversation as one of many attempts by government officials to actively “undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information.”
Indeed, Comey was blunt about the fact that he gave one of his detailed accounts to his friend, Columbia law professor Daniel Richman, in hopes that the leak “might prompt appointment of a special counsel.” Comey’s instincts were right, as Robert Mueller was appointed to oversee the Russia probe — an investigation that runs parallel to that by the Senate Investigative Committee and recently overtook a Virginia grand jury’s probe of Michael Flynn’s ties to Turkey.
However, Kasowitz frames Comey’s admitted leak as vengeance tied to his firing, noting that “although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory.”
Kasowitz’s approach to defending the Commander in Chief comes across as a more lawyerly reiteration of Trump’s own statements regarding fake news, unfair treatment by the media, and endless stream of leaks flowing out of the White House and spilling down Capitol Hill. “Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed … the President was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference,” Kasowitz wrote.
Kasowitz ended his statement with the same assertion that Comey’s firing had nothing to do with his investigation into Trump’s alleged Russian ties. “It is now established that there [sic] the President was not being investigated for colluding with the [sic] or attempting to obstruct that investigation.”
That may have been true then, but it’s no longer the case, as the four separate probes into possible Russian interference with the election and the Trump administration make quite clear.
You can read the full letter below.