Politics Comey fallout weighs on the GOP

13:51  11 june  2017
13:51  11 june  2017 Source:   The Hill

White House weighs blocking Comey's testimony

  White House weighs blocking Comey's testimony President Trump is weighing wether to invoke executive privilege to block the former FBI chief's testimony.By scheduling a hearing next Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee is forcing Trump to decide if he wants to invoke executive privilege in an attempt to stop his fired FBI chief from speaking.

Senators Collins and Cassidy join MTP Daily to discuss Comey , the Russia investigation and the health care debate in Washington. Mark Sanford (R-SC) weighs in on the CBO's new report on the GOP health care bill.

Democratic and Republican senators, mostly members of the Intelligence Committee, respond to the mixed messages from the White House on why President Trump fired James Comey .

Comey fallout weighs on the GOP© Provided by The Hill Comey fallout weighs on the GOP

Republicans are trying to figure out a way past swirling questions about ties between the Trump administration and the Russian government, with GOP strategists calling the investigation and surrounding controversies a public relations nightmare that has dragged on for too long.

Former FBI Director James Comey did not inflict any deadly blows against President Trump when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republicans believe, but they're concerned there will be more damaging revelations in the weeks ahead.

One worrisome prospect Comey's testimony raised for Republicans is that there may be additional damaging revelations about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

White House Prepares for Comey, but Without a 'War Room'

  White House Prepares for Comey, but Without a 'War Room' The White House has not set up a 'war room' to respond to former FBI director James Comey's testimony this week, instead relying onInstead, multiple people familiar with the planning describe to a different reality: early talk of a "war room" has petered out significantly. One source close to the White House describes it flatly: "There's no war room. Zero." Another administration source says it simply "never took off.

For all the Democratic outrage over Comey , Republicans can successfully enact legislation on certain issues, like health care and taxes, if they maintain party unity and abide by strict Senate rules. And that has the GOP thinking it can proceed apace on its agenda.

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Comey testified that the FBI was "aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting" that would have made it impossible for Sessions to oversee any Russia-related investigation.

It's not clear whether he was only referring to Sessions's failure to disclose two meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak or something that may come to light later.

Another potential headache for Republican lawmakers is that Trump himself continues to keep the story alive.

Trump's bitter fighting with the media over Russia and his dismissal of Comey has fueled a story that even the president's legislative director, Marc Short, acknowledged this past week was detracting from the president's agenda.

But one senior GOP aide said that lawmakers aren't holding out much hope of changing Trump's Twitter habit, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) publicly expressed hopes that there be "less drama" from the White House.

Comey won't say Trump obstructed justice in testimony: report

  Comey won't say Trump obstructed justice in testimony: report Former FBI Director James Comey won't testify that President Trump obstructed justice in the FBI's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to a new report.A source familiar with Comey's thinking on the matter told ABC News that Comey will not say TrumpA source familiar with Comey's thinking on the matter told ABC News that Comey will not say Trump interfered with the FBI's investigation, but will dispute Trump's assertion that the former FBI director told me three times that he is not under investigation.

Fleischer: Trump making it hard for GOP to defend him. Former White House press secretary weighs in on 'Fox & Friends'. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joins MTP Daily to discuss the fallout after James Comey 's testimony and Trump saying he would be willing to go under oath

GOP Senators React To James Comey Firing Fallout | MTP Daily | MSNBC.

The aide quipped that getting Trump to tweet less is "tilting at windmills."

Republican lawmakers are under increasing pressure as, four months into Trump's first term, they cannot point to any major accomplishments besides conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch confirmation to the Supreme Court. Instead, Trump's political problems have distracted from the agenda.

Republicans have publicly downplayed Comey's testimony, but privately they're nervous that they're burning through the legislative calendar while remaining deadlocked over healthcare reform. Meanwhile, unfinished work on tax reform, infrastructure investment and the budget piles up behind it.

The biggest frustration for many Republican lawmakers is that Trump has helped keep the controversy in the headlines by picking fights with the media on Twitter instead of keeping the focus on his own agenda or simply staying quiet at key moments.

Mueller ‘won’t be surprised’ by Comey’s testimony: report

  Mueller ‘won’t be surprised’ by Comey’s testimony: report Mueller's team has been in contact with Comey before his Senate testimony this Thursday.Mueller's team has been in contact with Comey ahead of his public remarks this Thursday, Politico reported Tuesday. The former FBI Director is expected to stick to past conversations with President Trump.

Fleischer: Trump making it hard for GOP to defend him. Former White House press secretary weighs in on 'Fox & Friends'. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joins MTP Daily to discuss the fallout after James Comey 's testimony and Trump saying he would be willing to go under oath

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"At minimum, it is an unforced PR nightmare that's gone on for far too long and at maximum it could be something approaching a scandal," said one Senate GOP strategist.

"The story doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. Whether or not there's something there, it's been a huge drag on the last couple of months and I hope they figure out to stop it soon," he added.

GOP lawmakers and aides say that continuing to pick a fight with Comey is not smart.

"Comey was very compelling. People talked about how credible he seemed," said the strategist.

Nevertheless, Trump couldn't resist slamming the former FBI director Friday morning.

"Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication ... and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" Trump tweeted, referring to Comey's admission that he shared a memo summarizing his interaction with the president with a Columbia Law School professor to give to the media.

The emerging consensus among GOP lawmakers, aides and strategists is that the best way for the party to get past the turbulence is for GOP lawmakers to pledge to get to the bottom of allegations of collusion with Russia and in the meantime to get to work on passing Trump's agenda.

Trump attorney disputes Comey, says Trump was not under investigation

  Trump attorney disputes Comey, says Trump was not under investigation The outside counsel for President Donald Trump on Thursday disputed key points of the testimony of James Comey.The attorney, Marc Kasowitz, said Trump did not ask Comey for his loyalty and did not direct or suggest to Comey that he stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Maher said he was never on the anti- Comey bandwagon during the campaign, calling the ex-FBI director a “boy scout.” Dan Rather on the GOP : ‘Never Seen So Many Members of a Political Party Rally Around Incompetence’.

Fleischer: Trump making it hard for GOP to defend him. Former White House press secretary weighs in on 'Fox & Friends'. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) joins MTP Daily to discuss the fallout after James Comey 's testimony and Trump saying he would be willing to go under oath

"It's real simple: Go do something. If you don't have the votes to repeal ObamaCare in the Senate, then get a budget passed, do tax reform. Get some stuff done," said Chip Saltsman, a Republican strategist.

"The worst thing they can do is get absolutely nothing done and go out for August recess," he added.

Republican senators are beginning to come around to the same view.

McConnell is pushing for a vote on ObamaCare repeal and replace legislation before the August recess. Lawmakers say it would be wise to decide what to do on healthcare reform soon and move on to tax reform.

"We're trying to work and keep our noses to the grindstone to rescue the American people from ever-imploding ObamaCare," said a Senate GOP aide. "There's the backdrop of the cacophony of the Comey hearing, and we're trying to work through various pieces of our agenda."

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.), who retired from Congress at the beginning of this year, said, "I think it's incredibly important that they legislate."

"If they go to the status quo of appropriating by continuing resolution or omnibus it's going to be a big strike against them," he added.

Salmon warned GOP senators not to drag out the healthcare debate for too much longer.

"The longer it goes, the less chance that something's actually going to happen so I think time is of the essence," he said.

Trump attorney disputes Comey, says Trump was not under investigation

  Trump attorney disputes Comey, says Trump was not under investigation The outside counsel for President Donald Trump on Thursday disputed key points of the testimony of James Comey.The attorney, Marc Kasowitz, said Trump did not ask Comey for his loyalty and did not direct or suggest to Comey that he stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey got “chewed up and spit out ” by two seasoned GOP senators after he “lied his a** off” about President Donald Trump. Comey ’s lies backfired on him, and he might end up looking at prison time. You don’t want to miss this.

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) - Chaos is President Donald Trump's style, yet as long as the Republican delivers on health care, taxes and tapping a new FBI director as solid as his Supreme Court pick, GOP leaders say everything will be just fine.

GOP lawmakers and strategists say the best thing their party can do about allegations of senior Trump advisors colluding with the Russian government is to let Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of the case, handle it.

They hope now that Comey has given Congress a full accounting of his involvement in the investigation and has had the chance to settle the score with Trump for firing him that damaging leaks from Comey's inner circle and Justice Department staff will die down.

Republicans can distance themselves from a potential scandal by making their own effort to dig up facts, which Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is in charge of as head of the main congressional investigation.

"On the Republican side, it's going to require that we show the same interest in getting to the bottom of it as we did with some of the Obama scandals," Salmon said. "The special prosecutor is going to do what he's going to do and they just need to wait until he concludes and let him do his job and be supportive."

In response to a question from Burr, Comey told the Intelligence Committee Thursday that it would be possible for both the Senate and special prosecutors to investigate simultaneously without hurting either investigation.

The Senate GOP aide said Republican senators are doing just that.

"There is a very serious and legitimate question about Russia's interference in the election. I think one point of pride for the United States Senate is how impressive the Senate Intelligence Committee has been on a bipartisan basis," the aide said.

Friend: Comey experienced ‘grotesque impropriety’ from Trump .
Benjamin Wittes, who runs the Lawfare blog and is known to be a friend of former FBI Director James Comey, in a new interview said President Trump’s dinner with Comey amounted to “grotesque impropriety.”In an interview with BuzzFeed News, editor-in-chief Ben Smith asked Wittes why he decided to begin sharing details of his private conversations with Comey with the media.

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