Home / U.S. / Pressure to release Comey Memos may have been counterproductive in G.O.P.

Pressure to release Comey Memos may have been counterproductive in G.O.P.

But when the memos appeared, the details were already known, and some Republicans suggested that the real importance of the memos was that they indicated that there was no case of obstruction of justice.

"I do not know what was necessarily shocking, the new information we found," said Rep. Mark Meadows, a conservative Republican from North Carolina. "But if someone is trying to suggest a case of obstruction of justice, he would use the memos as one of the evidence to use in the defense." Comey Director did not seem intimidated. "

The members of both parties said the Friday that Mr. Comey's notes mostly repeat his public testimony and are unlikely to drastically change the career of Mr. Trump's presidency or alter the investigations that revolve around him.

The publication of the memoranda showed that Mr. Comey's recent public statements have barely deviated from the memories he published in the newspapers during the months before Mr. Trump fired him last May. The memoranda document how the president sought Mr. Comey's loyalty; asked him to "let go" the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser; and pressed Mr. Comey to make it publicly clear in the Russian investigation.

In addition, the memoranda provide more evidence of what Mr. Comey saw as the president's obsession with accusations of indecent behavior. Mr. Comey wrote in the memoranda, as he did in his book, that Mr. Trump repeatedly raised an alleged encounter with prostitutes in a hotel room in Moscow in 2013.

The Democrats said that the memoranda helped establish that Mr. Comey was not a disgruntled employee who invented stories about the president.

"Thank you @HouseGOP for requesting the publication of Comey's memos!" Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, cheerfully wrote on Twitter.

Some Republicans continued to attack Mr. Comey, questioning his trial and suggesting that he had been motivated by resentment over his dismissal.

In a statement on the memoranda, the three presidents of the Republican committees who had asked for his release wrote that Mr. Comey never explicitly stated in his memoranda that the president was trying to interfere in the Russian investigation.

Director Comey did his best to set up scenes in the dining room, discuss the height requirements, describe the many times he felt congratulated and a myriad of strange facts, he never mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation, "they wrote.

Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet that the memos" clearly show that there is NO COLUSION or OBSTRUCTION ".

Some of the President's most ardent Republican supporters acknowledged that details previously not disclosed in the memoranda would probably not emerge as important evidence to counter the narrative that Mr. Comey is publicly offering during his speech. book of one week. tour.

Mr. Meadows and other Republican lawmakers took advantage of the memoranda, which were drafted lightly by the Department of Justice before they were released, as proof that Mr. Comey had leaked classified information when he gave copies of some to a friend, with permission to read them to a reporter from The New York Times.

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President Trump supporters protest outside of Barnes & Noble in Manhattan, where Mr. Comey appeared as part of his book tour. Taken together, the memos largely support the stories that Mr. Comey has shared elsewhere.

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Lucas Jackson / Reuters

The inspector general of the Department of Justice is conducting a review of the handling of the classified information contained in Mr. Comey's memoranda, according to a person informed about the investigation. The inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, is expected to dedicate a section of a broader report on the decision making of F.B.I. in 2016 to the matter of Mr. Comey's documents.

Mr. Comey gave copies of at least two of his memos to Daniel C. Richman, a longtime associate outside the F.B.I. Some of the memos were later considered as containing classified information. In one case, Mr. Comey had personally written the information before giving it to Mr. Richman, and in another case, to F.B.I. they considered that the material was classified only after it was in the hands of Mr. Richman.

Mr. Comey has said he shared the memoranda with Mr. Richman on the assumption that they would be shared with the media and to pressure the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee F.B.I.'s investigation. about Russia. The inspector general has questioned witnesses on the matter, and F.B.I. the agents conducted a search of Mr. Richman's office in New York to ensure that the leak was contained.

The review of the inspector general was reported for the first time by The Wall Street Journal.

"This is a stain in James Comey's trial when it comes to matters of law enforcement," said Raj Shah, White House spokesman, on Friday afternoon on CNN. He said Mr. Comey's decision to leak the memos to his friend "raises serious questions about his judgment and his integrity."

Democrats said Friday that Republicans had failed in their efforts to discredit Mr. Comey's claims about the president's private behavior. They predicted that the memorandums would help investigators put together a case against Trump and his associates.

"The simple fact is that they unquestionably show pressure from the president to block or stop the investigation, so they are more evidence of attempts to obstruct justice," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.

Mr. Blumenthal accused the Republicans of trying, with little success, to distort the meaning of the memoranda.

"They are a pretty crude story, which people can use for partisan purposes," he said.

Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who has criticized efforts to undermine Russia's investigation, said both sides were wrong if they thought publication of the full memoranda would affect the merits of the case.

"There may be some salty details here" Mr. Dent said, "but nothing is changing the general narrative about Mueller's research."

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