The following exchange occurred during the 29 October 2003 confirmation hearing of nominee James B Comey Jr as Deputy Attorney General: (Updated)
Senator Charles E. Schemer (Democrat, New York): Let us just say, hypothetically, you come to the conclusion that the Attorney General should recuse himself, which you said you might or might not, but it is possible that you would, you have not ruled it out, which I appreciate. And you recommended to him and he says, “No, here are the reasons, James, that I do not think I should.” And you feel quite strongly that he should. Will you just say, “Well, he has overruled me and that is that?” Would you go to another arbiter? Would you — what would you do? You have had to have thought about that — well, I asked you about it yesterday, so you had to have thought about it overnight. It is not an easy question.
James Comey: You are asking me to imagine an apocalyptic situation that I don’t expect to encounter. I would not take this job if I thought I was going to be working with people who didn’t share my love of the law and love of the institution. So I don’t think I’ll ever find myself in that position. I can commit to you though that — because I talk so much about integrity and about this great group behind me — that’s what I really care about. I don’t care about politics. I don’t care about expediency. I don’t care about friendship. I care about doing the right thing. And I would never be part of something that I believe to be fundamentally wrong. I mean obviously we all make policy judgments where people disagree, but I will do the right thing.
Yet mister-you-can-trust-me-to-do-the-right-thing testified this week that he, while FBI Director under Obama, meekly consented to an inappropriate directive from Attorney General Loretta Lynch:
“I wanted to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation [into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server], and she said, ‘Yes, but don’t call it that, call it a matter,'” Comey added. “And I said, ‘Why would I do that?’ And she said, ‘Just call it a matter.'”When asked why he did not object to this request, Comey said he thought, “This isn’t a hill worth dying on, and so I just said, ‘Okay.’ The press is going to completely ignore it — and that’s what happened.”News outlets continued to use the word “investigation” to describe the case, as Comey predicted, though her request “concerned me because that language tracked with how the campaign was talking about how the FBI was doing its work.“
Donald Trump and James Comey: The event that made a tweet-happy President keep his fingers still
US President Donald Trump did not tweet for almost 48 hours, and managed to stay off Twitter for the entire day of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Apart from being oh so tantalisingly close to a record example of self-restraint for the notoriously tweet-happy President, it says something about the significance of the event and its potential influence on the administration.
Here’s an exchange on that from the hearing:
Senator Jim Risch: “Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?”
Mr Comey: “I don’t know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction. I mean, this is a President of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.”
So, back to the President’s Twitter fingers. In the end, he couldn’t help himself: