Following the testimony of former FBI director James Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, President Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz released a statement in response. It is below in its entirety, slightly edited for typos.
Sections not in bold represent context we’ve added to Kasowitz’s comments.
I am Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer.
Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told the President privately: The President was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. He also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.
Here, Kasowitz is referring to a report from CNN on Wednesday in which the network predicted that Comey would contradict Trump’s claim that the FBI director had told him on three occasions that he himself was not under investigation. Comey’s prepared testimony did make that point.
Update: It’s also worth noting, as an emailer did, that Comey didn’t say no vote changed as a result of interference. He said that there was no evidence votes were altered — meaning that no votes were changed after the fact. It’s clear, though, that the leak of information from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman — attributed to Russia — affected at least some votes.
Mr. Comey’s testimony also makes clear that the President never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election, and in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the President told Mr. Comey “it would be good to find out” in that investigation if there were “some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong.”
Kasowitz is taking advantage of the blurry boundaries of “the investigation into Russian interference” — which he describes as “attempted,” apparently to bolster Trump’s long-standing insistence that the role of Russia in hacking his political opponents was still an open question. Comey never testified that Trump asked him to impede the entire investigation. Instead, he says that the president strongly suggested that he wanted inquiries into former national security adviser Michael Flynn curtailed.
Comey’s prepared testimony did include that comment from Trump about finding out if others were involved — which, of course, runs contrary to Trump’s flat statements in the past that there was no collusion.
Consistent with that statement, the President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey “let Flynn go.” As he publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, “General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot” and also “asked how is General Flynn is doing.” Admiral Rogers testified that the President never “directed [him] to do anything . . . illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate” and never “pressured [him] to do so.” Director Coats said the same thing. The President likewise never pressured Mr. Comey.
This comes down to a he-said, he-said. Comey, testifying under oath, described notes he made contemporaneously in which he recorded what Trump had said to him. He also testified that he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the days after that conversation that he didn’t want to be left alone with Trump, out of concern that the president would make improper requests.
Kasowitz (and Trump) dispute that contention, though neither is under oath while doing so.
The statement about Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is interesting. The Post reported this week that Trump asked Coats and the director of the CIA to try to intervene with Comey to curtail the Flynn investigation. In a Senate hearing this week, Coats did not deny that this happened.
The President also never told Mr. Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” in form or substance. Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.
Again, he-said, he-said. The president is certainly entitled to request loyalty, but that doesn’t make it appropriate, particularly given that Trump knew that Comey’s agency was investigating his presidential campaign.
Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.
What Comey admitted was that he had asked a friend to release details from one of those contemporaneous memos to the media. The material in that memo, detailing a conversation between Comey and Trump, was not classified. Note the wording that Kasowitz uses: “selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.” He’s conflating “selective” with “illegal” and “classified” with “privileged.” Comey’s was a selective leak of privileged conversation — not anything illegal. He’s lumping in Comey with those who leaked classified information, for rhetorical effect.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated he disclosed to them the conversations he had with the President during their January 27, 2017 dinner and February 14, 2017 White House meeting. Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends his purported memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. He also testified that immediately after he was terminated he authorized his friends to leak the contents of these memos to the press in order to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
Kasowitz here makes it seem as though Comey leaked information about his conversations back in March, before he was fired — but appears to be referring to Comey describing those conversations with friends. That, too, is not illegal.
Comey testified that some of the contents of one or more memos was classified, but also that he didn’t give any classified information to anyone else. “My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded,” he told Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). He did give all of the memos to the special counsel.
Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory. We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated.
Kasowitz is referring to this Times article about Trump’s alleged request for loyalty from Comey. It includes quotes from the conversation with Trump and Comey, but doesn’t refer to the memo.
That Kasowitz indicates he will leave it to the authorities to determine if Comey’s leaks should be investigated suggests that he thinks they will not be. The net effect of this focus on leaks is, of course, to undermine Comey’s testimony.
In sum, it is now established that there the President was not being investigated for colluding with the or attempting to obstruct that investigation. As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the long course of these events.
The use of “was not” is important here. Comey did testify that, as of the day he was fired one month ago Friday, Trump was not personally under investigation. Comey also indicated that he didn’t say that publicly because that status might change. The nature of an investigation, after all, is to turn up new information.
Finally, it did “leak” that Trump wasn’t under investigation — Trump said it himself, publicly, in the letter firing Comey.