Editorials

It’s time for President Trump and James Comey to come clean

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, stands next to a photograph of President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, stands next to a photograph of President Donald Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The Associated Press

James Comey, then the FBI director, says President Donald Trump asked him to end the investigation into Michael Flynn, who had resigned as national security adviser the day before. The White House says Trump never made such a request.

It’s a he-said, he-said of historic proportions – one that could build a case against the president for obstruction of justice and conceivably lead to impeachment proceedings. So the American people deserve no less than the entire truth.

Comey should accept the invitations from Congress to testify in public. The FBI should release the memo he wrote about this Feb. 14 meeting at issue, plus any others he penned after each conversation with Trump, reportedly out of concern the president was improperly trying to influence the investigation.

The president needs to directly address this allegation himself. If there are tapes of his meetings with Comey – as Trump suggested in a tweet after firing him last week – they should be disclosed.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the White House for all audio recordings, transcripts, notes and other records of Trump’s meetings with Comey, and joined the Senate Intelligence Committee in asking the FBI for any Comey memos.

This particular memo is a potential bombshell. While there’s a separate investigation into Flynn, he is also a key figure in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Flynn has reportedly asked for immunity from prosecution in return for his cooperation.

Trump dismissed Comey, reportedly after he refused to pledge his loyalty and just days after he sought more staff and resources for the Russia probe. Late Wednesday, the Justice Department named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to run the investigation, a good and necessary move.

The disclosure of the memo by The New York Times late Tuesday came hours after Trump defended his apparent sharing of secret information about the Islamic State with top Russian diplomats in the Oval Office last week.

The combination of the two scandals may be weakening support for Trump among Republicans who control Congress. More are publicly criticizing the president and some are now calling for an independent investigation on Russia. Democrats are talking more openly about impeachment.

We’re not there yet. But this is certainly a stern test for our system of checks and balances – and for Democrats and Republicans alike to put country first.

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