Published: Sun, June 04, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Al Franken: I Don't Think Trump Ordered Comey to Quash Russia Probe

Al Franken: I Don't Think Trump Ordered Comey to Quash Russia Probe

File picture shows FBI Director James Comey testifying before the House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2017.

"I don't think he ordered him to do it", Franken told CNBC's "Squawk Box".

Democrats have said that Trump's conversations with Comey show that the president was trying to obstruct the FBI's investigation into Flynn, who is under scrutiny for calls he had with the Russian ambassador and for work he did for a firm that had ties to the Turkish government.

"I trust - everyone in Washington trusts - (Mueller) to make the determination about whether these are crimes, and obstruction of justice is a crime", Franken said.

Trump fired Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director last month.

Comey is expected to testify on how Trump reportedly pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into the Russian contacts of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

However, Trump has publicly discussed his conversations with Comey before firing him last month - and legal experts have concluded that the president most likely, as such, has waived his ability to invoke privilege. Franken said he just wanted answers.

A White House spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Ohlin said that if Trump invokes executive privilege and Comey testifies despite that, the administration has two avenues for recourse: an injunction before Comey's testimony, or a prosecution afterward, neither of which would be very helpful for Trump.

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But blocking former FBI Director James Comey from testifying to congress could spark a political backlash.

"We write to remind you that any such assertion of privilege is nearly certainly baseless, particularly given that Mr. Comey is no longer employed by the Trump Administration", the lawmakers' letter to White House general counsel Don McGahn read.

Trump, who has raised doubts about the US agencies' findings and denounced the continuing Russian Federation probes, has denied any collusion.

Invoking executive privilege can be a politically treacherous move, recalling past scandals like Watergate, in which President Richard M. Nixon asserted the power in efforts to block congressional investigations.

However, "neither aspect of executive privilege would likely apply", they said.

Comey kept detailed memos of his conversations with the President, a topic sure to come up during the hearing.

One of these notes, allegedly written by Comey, was recently leaked and it appears to reveal Trump directly asking Comey to kill the Flynn investigation.

Russia has repeatedly denied any effort to interfere in the United States election, and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said some Russians might have acted on their own without their government's involvement.

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