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Lawyers for President Donald Trump unleashed a blistering assault on former FBI Director James Comey in a confidential memo final yr to the particular counsel, casting him as “Machiavellian,” dishonest and “unbounded by law and regulation” as they sought to undermine the credibility of a legislation enforcement chief they see as a essential witness towards the president.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, offers a window into the formation of a authorized technique at present utilized by Trump’s attorneys as they search to pit the president’s phrase towards that of the previous FBI director. Comey’s firing in May 2017 helped set in movement the appointment of particular counsel Robert Mueller, and one-on-one conversations with Trump that Comey documented in a collection of memos helped kind the premise of Mueller’s inquiry into whether or not the president obstructed justice.
Mueller is trying broadly into Russia’s meddling within the U.S. election and its contacts with folks in Trump’s marketing campaign.
The June 27, 2017, letter was written by Marc Kasowitz, then the president’s lead lawyer, as Mueller and his group have been within the early levels of their investigation into Trump associates and as that they had begun analyzing whether or not the president, by firing Comey, had sought to stymie an FBI investigation into the Trump marketing campaign’s ties to Russia. The White House initially pointed as justification for the firing to a Justice Department memo that faulted Comey for his dealing with of the Hillary Clinton electronic mail investigation, although Trump later stated that “this Russia thing” was on his thoughts when he made the transfer.
The doc additionally might have new relevance within the aftermath of a Justice Department inspector normal report that criticized Comey for departing from established protocol within the Clinton investigation.
It’s not clear to what extent, if any, the assaults on Comey have resonated with Mueller’s group, which continues to hunt an interview with the president on whether or not he had a corrupt intent when he fired the FBI director. And even within the face of withering criticism, Comey has been largely constant in his telling of his interactions with Trump in his memos, his guide and quite a few press interviews he’s given in latest months.
The 13-page doc goals to establish for Mueller what the attorneys consider are grievous errors each in how Comey dealt with the Clinton investigation and in his early, and restricted, encounters with the president. In it, Kasowitz argues that Comey can’t be trusted as a witness as a result of he repeatedly embellished his testimony earlier than Congress, put his “own personal interests and emotions” above FBI protocol and left a cloud of undue suspicion above the president’s head.
“Over the last year, Mr. Comey has engaged in a pattern of calculated unilateral action unbounded by governing law, regulation and practice, and plainly motivated by personal and political self-interest,” wrote Kasowitz, who has since stepped apart as lead lawyer.
Lawyers for Comey declined to remark Saturday. Kasowitz and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow didn’t instantly return messages, and former Trump lawyer John Dowd declined to remark. Peter Carr, spokesman for Mueller, additionally declined remark Saturday.
The doc doesn’t give attention to questions of Trump’s guilt or innocence. Instead, it casts in a unfavorable mild actions that Comey has stated he fastidiously reasoned and that he has vigorously defended in his guide and interviews. Those embrace the choice to announce on his personal with out Justice Department session the conclusion of the Clinton investigation, and the choice months later to temporary Trump — then the president-elect — on allegations about him in a salacious file.
“Mr. Comey continued his Machiavellian behavior after President Trump was elected,” Kasowitz wrote.
Among the principal traces of assault are Comey’s acknowledgment that he offered his attorneys with contemporaneous memos about his interactions with Trump and approved one among them to share particulars with the information media. In one such encounter, Comey stated the president requested him at a non-public dinner for his loyalty and that Comey supplied him “honest loyalty” as a substitute.
“There is no ‘honest loyalty’ in an FBI Director surreptitiously leaking to civilians his privileged and confidential conversations with the president, or misappropriating and disseminating his confidential FBI memos or their contents about those meetings,” Kasowitz wrote. “There is no ‘honest loyalty’ in using those civilians as surrogates to feed stolen information and memos to the press to achieve a personal, political, and retributive objective of harming a sitting president.”
Like Trump, the lawyer additionally complains about Comey’s refusal to state publicly to Congress that the president was not underneath investigation regardless that he stated so privately.
“Despite his repeated assurances to the President over the prior three months that he was not under investigation, the President’s repeated pleas to make that fact public, and Mr. Comey’s testimony that he had DOJ (Department of Justice) approval to make this ‘extraordinary’ announcement, Mr. Comey not only declined to clarify that there was no investigation of the President, but he used broad language that only reinforced the inaccurate perception that the President was under investigation,” Kasowitz wrote.
The New York Times earlier reported that Kasowitz had written two letters to Mueller in June 2017 and revealed one during which he categorically rejected the concept Comey’s firing might represent obstruction of justice. The AP obtained a replica of the opposite doc, along with a two-page memo from September during which Trump attorneys lament to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Mueller was “inexplicably” not investigating Comey’s “misconduct” that they had earlier raised.
Kasowitz says Comey stonewalled the president’s request to clear his title with a view to “sustain an investigative cloud” over his head that might make it onerous for Trump to fireplace him. Comey, for his half, has stated he had already informed congressional leaders who was and was not underneath investigation, and that he was reluctant to make public statements in case one thing modified and he wanted to appropriate the file.
The letter castigates Comey for usurping the authority of his Justice Department bosses by asserting the conclusion of the Clinton investigation with out in search of their approval, a criticism echoed by the inspector normal final month. Comey has stated he made the announcement alone due to concern that Justice Department management was seen as politically compromised.
The letter says Comey “confronted” the president-elect in a January 2017 Trump Tower assembly “with phony but highly embarrassing allegations concerning his personal life” from a file compiled by a former British spy. It was the primary in a collection of conversations that Comey documented in writing, one thing Trump attorneys say he did with the final word purpose of harming the president. Comey has stated he informed Trump concerning the file allegations as a result of they have been extensively identified in Washington, together with by the media, and that he stored his memos as a result of he was involved that Trump may lie about their conversations.
In the September memo obtained by AP, Dowd, who left the authorized group in March, expressed dismay to Rosenstein that there’s no grand jury investigation into “the obviously corrupt conclusion” of the Clinton investigation, suggesting it was improper that Comey had begun drafting an announcement closing the probe even earlier than Clinton was interviewed.
“Today, you are faced with a terrible blight on our Department of Justice which must be addressed to restore and inspire confidence in the Department,” Dowd stated in calling for the grand jury investigation.
Note: “Previously Published on: 2018-07-07 15:11:14, as ‘Donald Trump’s attorneys name James Comey ‘Machiavellian’ in letter to Mueller – National