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Friday, May 12, 2017
‘Witness Intimidation’: Trump May Have Crossed Legal Lines With Comey Tweet
On Friday morning, the sitting president of the United States may have threatened the former head of the FBI.
An early morning tweetstorm from US President Donald Trump warned darkly that ex-FBI Director James Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”
Trump has been roundly bashed for sacking Comey. Some lawmakers say the move amounts to obstructing the ongoing investigation into ties between his inner circle and Russian government operatives.
FBI directors usually serve 10-year terms to maintain independence from the common chaos of Washington politics. "The FBI is a tribal organization," Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institution told Vox. "You screw with the FBI, you screw with the institution of the FBI, and … a lot of people are going to be angry," he said Thursday.
Another charge levied against the Trump administration following Comey’s ouster is that Trump’s tweets constitute nothing short of witness intimidation.
"First obstruction of an investigation. Now witness intimidation from the Highest Office. A sad moment for even this White House," Democrat lawmaker Gerry Connolly of Virginia tweeted Friday morning.
"Unhinged?" Connolly inquired to the masses.
Connolly wasn’t the only one to suggest Trump had broken the law. Former President Barack Obama’s ethics czar Norm Eisen also tweeted concern.
If any "tapes" do in fact exist, they should be submitted to the House Intelligence Committee, ranking member Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, said Friday.
A source close to the former FBI chief told CNN on Friday that Comey is "not worried about any tapes" as he enjoys his sudden vacation at home in northern Virginia. The source cast doubt on the existence of Trump’s phantom blackmail recordings: "If there is a tape, there’s nothing [Comey] is worried about."
When asked about the "tapes" on Friday afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said "the president has no further comment about that." Spicer added he was "not aware" of whether audio surveillance was conducted when Comey and Trump met for dinner at the White House on January 27.
Regarding Trump’s possibly threatening tweet, Spicer insisted the president had merely stated "facts."