Obstruction of the FBI Investigation

Firing FBI Director James Comey

On February 14, 2017, following an Oval Office meeting with FBI Director James Comey in attendance, Donald Trump requested everyone but Comey to leave the room. Once alone, Trump requested that Comey shut down the FBI investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Source

On March 4, 2017, in a series of tweets Donald Trump falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama had wiretapped him.

The claims appear to have been made in response to a Fox News program Trump had just seen on TV. They gained widespread attention, being heavily promoted, apparently, to distract from, and to hinder, the inquiry into Trump’s ties with Russia. There remains no evidence to support Trump’s claims. A FISA warrant was granted for surveillance of Paul Manafort, who lived in Trump Tower, and for surveillance of Carter Page, a member of Trump’s foreign policy team; and routine surveillance of foreign nationals, such as Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, have been revealed to have caught several Trump campaign members during the course of their apparently, extremely common secret communications. But Trump has shown nothing to indicate in any way that his campaign had its wires tapped, or that his own phone calls were under surveillance.

On March 7, 2017, Roger Stone was interviewed by Russian state-backed media outlet RT, where he characterized Trump’s false claims about the Obama administration wiretapping Trump Tower during his presidential campaign as “the most outrageous breach of law and of morality in American public history,” and called on Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey. Source

Stone also claimed that “alternative” news sources Breitbart, InfoWars, and the Daily Caller reflect a change for the better in the content of news media available in the US.

On March 20, 2017, at a House Intelligence Committee hearing FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in their interference in the 2016 presidential election. Comey and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers both denied that there was any support for Trump’s allegations about the Obama administration wiretapping Trump’s phones. Source

In March 2017, Donald Trump requested Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers to make public statements that there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. They refused. Source

In early May 2017, Donald Trump dictated his thoughts on firing FBI Director James Comey to his advisor Stephen Miller. Miller then prepared a letter intended to provide Trump’s reasoning for firing Comey. During a meeting to discuss a strategy for firing Comey, White House Counsel Donald McGahn successfully blocked Trump from sending the letter to Comey, believing that the letters’ angry, meandering tone was problematic, and that it referred to private conversations between Trump and Comey. The letter was sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who then drafted his own letter, eventually used by the Trump administration as the alleged rationale for firing Comey. Source Rosenstein would later confirm that when he agreed to prepare his memo, he was aware that Trump intended to fire Comey. Source

On May 9, 2017, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, head of the Trump–Russia investigation. Several members of the administration offered varying explanations for why Comey was fired, including his alleged poor handling of the earlier investigation during the presidential campaign into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server (the focus of Rosenstein’s letter). Very soon thereafter, Trump contradicted his own staff and acknowledged he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. Source

On May 10, 2017, Donald Trump met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. Trump barred American reporters but allowed Russian press into the meeting. Source During the meeting, Trump told the Russians that Comey was “crazy, a real nutjob,” and that his firing of Comey would relieve great pressure that he was under due to the FBI investigation. Source Trump also revealed to the Russians sensitive classified intelligence, including information about Israeli cyber operations that penetrated a small terrorist group in Syria, and learned that they were working on explosives that looked like laptop batteries and could fool X-ray machines and other airport screening. Israeli officials were “infuriated.” Source

On May 17, 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the FBI’s continued investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Source

Donald Trump Instructed Donald Trump Jr. to Make a False Public Statement About Meeting with Russian Agents

On July 8, 2017, Trump campaign advisers deliberated and reached a consensus that the administration should be truthful about the recently-revealed meeting between Russian agents and Trump campaign members in June 2016. Ignoring their advice, Donald Trump personally dictated a statement for Donald Trump Jr. to publicly deliver. In the statement, Trump Jr. falsely claimed that the meeting “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” which was “not a campaign issue at the time.” Source In fact, the agreed purpose of the meeting, which in fact took place, was that Russian agents delivered a document to the Trump campaign with false allegations that the Clinton campaign was funded with ‘dirty’ money. Source

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