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Watergate Lawyer Reacts To Comey's Testimony - Says There’s "No Doubt" Trump Obstructed Justice

Former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to a congressional committee on Thursday indicated that President Trump obstructed justice by trying to interfere in a federal investigation, according to a former federal prosecutor.

Nick Ackerman, an assistant special prosecutor in the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, told CNBC there is “no doubt” the president broke the law. “The Comey testimony today makes that crystal clear,” he said. “Obstruction of justice is an intent crime. If his intent was to impede, interfere or stop that investigation, that’s obstruction.”

Comey, who Trump fired from the FBI last month, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president asked him during a one-on-one meeting in February: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” The request concerned the bureau’s investigation of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who was forced to resign following revelations that he had telephone conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December.

Flynn admitted he “misled” Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about the nature of the discussions. He allegedly promised the ambassador that the incoming administration would lift sanctions that President Obama imposed on Russia as punishment for meddling in the 2016 election. Flynn also is under fire for having accepted payments from the governments of Russia and Turkey. The inquiry into the former national security adviser’s activities is part of the larger probe of charges that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to tamper with the election.

Ackerman said he does not think “for a minute” that Flynn communicated with Russian officials without Trump’s knowledge. “The bottom line is the president is worried that Mike Flynn is going to turn into the next James McCord, the Watergate burglar who wound up getting a heavy sentence and then fingering the people in the White House,” the former prosecutor said, adding that the evidence suggests “one big obstruction of justice.”

Marc Kasowitz, the New York City attorney Trump recently hired as a personal lawyer, accused Comey of lying under oath. Kasowitz claimed the president never “directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.” The former director wrote memos immediately following the encounters to help him remember what was said. After he was fired, he leaked the memos to a reporter in hopes that they would hasten the appointment of a Justice Department special counsel to investigate the Russian scandal.

There could be audio tapes of the private conversations between Trump and Comey. Soon after firing the director, the president tweeted: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” The White House has not confirmed or denied the existence of the recordings.

Robert Ray, who served as independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation that targeted former President Bill Clinton, disagreed with Ackerman. He told CNBC that it is “far-fetched” to call Trump’s purported comments obstruction of justice. “Whatever the president’s hopes and intimations were, he didn’t issue a directive or an order to the FBI director to end any investigation,” Ray said.

Source: CNBC
Photo: Jan Philipp Burgard/Twitter

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