Embattled White House lurches from crisis to crisis


According to the Times account of Comey's memo, Trump said: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go". It's a question the White House has had to deal with since Friday morning, when President Trump tweeted a vague threat of sorts to the man he had ousted as Federal Bureau of Investigation director. The FBI is investigating Flynn's dealings, as well as possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential election.

"There's definitely a case to be made for obstruction", said Barak Cohen, a former federal prosecutor who now does white-collar defense work at the Perkins Coie law firm. "But on the other hand you have to realize that - as with any other sort of criminal law - intent is key, and intent here can be hard to prove".

The revelation that Donald Trump allegedly urged former FBI Director James Comey to drop a probe into former adviser Michael Flynn fueled speculation the president may have obstructed justice, but any penalty would likely come from Congress and not the criminal justice system, lawyers said Tuesday.

King, an independent from ME, spent several minutes speaking with CNN host Wolf Blitzer after The New York Times broke the story about a memo that people familiar with the matter say Comey wrote after a February meeting with Trump in the Oval Office.

The usually circumspect Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said on Tuesday morning that the party needed "less drama" from the president.

Legal experts point to two opinions written by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in 1973 and 2000, both concluding that indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. He repeatedly praised Comey for his "guts" in handling the Clinton email investigation for months and then when he became president not only allowed him to continue in the position, he never once mentioned removing him. "It just depends on how it's done". "I don't think we're there yet", said the lawyer, who asked not to be named.

The White House is disputing a report that President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to shut down an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. According to the voices that defended this move over the ensuing 24 hours, like the vice president, two press secretaries (can anyone find Sean Spicer?) and the usual host of spinners, it was Rosenstein's strong recommendation that Comey be removed that sprang "the decisive president" into action, thus, in essence, laying the responsibility for it on someone else.

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"It looks like he was trying to impede the investigation", said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.

Then there was the Comey firing itself, which Trump even admitted had something to do with the Russian investigation.

The person who described the Comey memo to the AP was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. If that is true, those could be critical to proving whose account of the meeting is accurate. Trump said to Mr Comey that Mr Flynn was a good guy, to which Mr Comey agreed, the person said.

"And we now have evidence that he may have indicated an improper goal previously in his communications with Comey about the Russian Federation investigation". "That's obviously a very powerful piece of evidence".

The New York Times says Trump made the request to Comey during a February meeting. In his letter firing Comey, Trump said he was assured that he was not.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they wanted to see the memo. Ronald Reagan needed to be carefully managed so he didn't go off script inappropriately - but when he had a competent White House staff, he rarely harmed US interests by doing so. This leak was to be expected, given the FBI's internal respect for Comey and word on the street that he documented every iota of communication between himself and Trump. With a lower-profile target, he said, "maybe prosecutors might be aggressive enough to bring a case", but "it also arguably undermines democracy for prosecutors to go after a sitting president with only circumstantial evidence".

While not unprecedented, it is a rare privilege for a foreign minister to be granted bilateral talks in the Oval Office with a US president.