June 08, 2017

At Intelligence Committee Hearing, Senator Harris Questions Comey on Sessions’ Role in Russia Probe

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Washington, D.C. - Today, in a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris questioned former FBI Director James Comey about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' continued involvement in the Russia probe despite having recused himself from the investigation. This included Sessions' recommendation that the President fire Director Comey as head of the FBI, even though Comey was leading that exact investigation in which Sessions recused himself from participating.

Harris sought assurances from Comey that safeguards were put in place to ensure that Sessions was indeed abiding by his recusal. Harris asked, "aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was, what mechanism or processes were in place to ensure that the Attorney General would not have any connection with the investigation to your knowledge?" Comey replied by saying he didn't "know for sure."

Harris' questioning of Comey came on the heels of yesterday's Intelligence hearing where she pressed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to grant Special Counsel Robert Mueller full independence. Harris asked Comey whether Director Mueller should have "full independence," and Comey agreed.

In his prepared testimony, Comey said Trump told him, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn

go." During the hearing, Comey said he interpreted that as an order for the probe to be dropped. Senator Harris opened by comparing this to her time as a career prosecutor, stating, "in my experience of prosecuting cases, when a robber held a gun to somebody's head and said, 'I hope you will give me your wallet, the word 'hope' was not the most operative word at that moment."

Additional Excerpts of Senator Harris' questioning can be found below:

Harris: Do you know if the Attorney General was involved, in fact, involved in any aspect of the Russia investigation after his recusal on the 2nd of March?

Comey: I don't, I would assume not. But I don't - well, let me say it this way - I don't know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the Russian investigation after the recusal.

Harris: In your written testimony, you indicate that you, after you were left alone with the President, you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never had happen again to the Attorney General. And apparently, he did not reply and you write that "he did not reply." What did he do? If anything. Did he just look at you? Was there a pause for a moment? What happened?

Comey: I don't remember real clearly. I have a recollection of him just kind of looking me and there's a danger here I'm projecting onto him so this may be a faulty memory, but I kind of got his body language gave me the sense like, "What am I going to do?"

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Harris: Is there anything about this investigation that you believe is, in any way, biased or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth?

Comey: No. The appointment of a special counsel should offer great, especially given who that person is, great comfort to Americans no matter what your political affiliation is, that this will be done independently, competently, and honestly.

Harris: And do you believe that he should have full authority, Mr. Mueller, to be able to pursue that investigation?

Comey: Yes, and knowing him well, over the years, if there's something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it.

Harris: Do you believe he should have full independence?

Comey: Oh, yeah. And he wouldn't be part of it if he wasn't going to get full independence.

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