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Chris Matthews: Trump-Russia collusion theories 'came apart' during Comey testimony

13 June 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 USA presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 8, 2017.

Trump's offer to testify heightens the drama of his standoff with Comey, who told senators that Trump had demanded his personal loyalty and had pressured him to drop a counterintelligence investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The reaction to a woman who says her superior sexually harassed her and the reaction to a man who says the president asked him to drop an FBI investigation are only similar insofar as they both activate entrenched power structures that are created to protect the most powerful among us.

In the short letter Trump sent to Comey dismissing him from the FBI, he thanked Comey for informing him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation.

The ex-FBI director's testimony recounts his conversations with the apparent precision of a veteran lawman.

Former FBI Director James Comey takes his seat after being sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. Regardless, it raised the prospect of a president willing to both lie and abuse his power.

Comey called Trump's Twitter bluff suggesting at least one of their conversations had been recorded. Finally, Comey's testimony can also be seen as more evidence for the theory that Trump's highly questionable uses of his executive authority stem not from a Machiavellian attempt to manipulate American democracy but from his obtuseness and naivete about how presidents are supposed to act.

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Republicans mindful of the gravity of the moment worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing.

Fellow Republicans, meanwhile, pressed Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey and provide them to Congress if he does - or possibly face a subpoena.

The Department of Justice put out a statement Thursday evening, asserting that Sessions' "participation in President Trump's campaign" was the sole reason for his recusal. "The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation and special counsel Mueller ought to get to the bottom of this matter".

Comey was also asked if he believed he was sacked because of the bureau's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election as well as Russia's ties with Trump's campaign. She said she's trying to keep her focus on helping her father change the status quo.

In response to that report, the Justice Department said there was no meeting at the Mayflower.

Trump and aides referenced those comments in claiming vindication, but some officials said Comey's statements that Trump leaned on him to drop the Russian Federation investigation could add up to obstruction of justice. "I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation". You're strong.There is a certain amount of intimidation.

Discussing the meeting where Comey says Trump asked him to back off Flynn, Sen. "President, this is wrong, '?"

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Comey previously told lawmakers he believes Russian Federation poses the United States' "greatest threat".

Comey testified before that committee on Thursday, and Sen. Comey also refused to characterize anything the president had done as being against the law.

During much of the increasingly heated debate surrounding the FBI's investigation of Russia's role in the election, Trump has chafed over news leaks, arguing that news organizations had not given them proper attention. While Comey said he would welcome the release of tapes, Trump and aides refuse to say whether such tapes exist.

"We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling", he added. As Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Bernstein noted, Comey's testimony illustrated the self-defeating incompetence with which Trump has governed.

Within days of Comey's firing, Trump's Justice Department, over the president's opposition, named Mueller to lead the investigation into all aspects of Russia's meddling in the election.

"There should be no fuzz on this". Some legal experts said Comey's account could bolster such a case.

The way Comey described it, when the president gets you alone in the Oval Office, looks you in the eye and expresses his wishes, you understand you're being given an order.

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Trump has been dismissive of the Russian Federation probes, calling them "a witch hunt" and saying they are an excuse by Democrats to explain candidate Hillary Clinton's loss in the November election.