This had never happened before in the U.S. The FBI had to consider whether Donald Trump was a Russian puppet, whether the president was a “useful fool,” or less kindly a “useful idiot.” Imagine the weight of such a decision hanging over these law enforcement officials. They saw how Trump appeared to benefit Russia over the U.S. CNN obtained the just-released transcript of the FBI’s momentous discussion about whether to open an investigation into whether the man sitting in the Oval Office obstructed justice. This small group of FBI officials were about to change history.
Was Trump “following directions” from Russia? Former FBI general counsel James Baker said the FBI considered whether Trump was involved with Russia. He told House investigators a year ago that he wondered if Trump was:
‘…acting at the behest of and somehow following directions, somehow executing their will. That was one extreme. The other extreme is that the President is completely innocent, and we discussed that too. There’s a range of things this could possibly be. We need to investigate, because we don’t know whether, you know, the worst-case scenario is possibly true or the President is totally innocent and we need to get this thing over with — and so he can move forward with his agenda.’
Former FBI attorney Lisa Page told the legislators:
‘It’s not that it could not have been done. This case had been a topic of discussion for some time. The ‘waiting on’ was an indecision and a cautiousness on the part of the bureau with respect to what to do and whether there was sufficient predication to open.’
After the story broke, Trump fired off a series of tweets meant to discredit Comey and the FBI:
‘Wow, just learned in the Failing New York Times that the corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!’
The New York Times received the transcript and CNN confirmed it. Baker told the legislators the idea that Trump was taking orders from Russia was “discussed as a theoretical possibility:”
‘Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security. I’m speaking theoretically. If the President of the United States fired Jim Comey at the behest of the Russian government, that would be unlawful and unconstitutional.’
Trump fired FBI director James Comey when he refused to stop investigating Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election. Comey said:
‘The public comments, because they were widely broadcast, were ones that were apparent to the senior leadership team of the FBI. If I didn’t tell the senior leadership team of the FBI about my conversation with President Trump, they wouldn’t otherwise know and couldn’t help me figure out what to do with what was potential obstruction of justice.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.