President Donald Trump received three separate assurances from then-FBI Director James Comey that the President was not personally under investigation, but he may now be under investigation because he couldn’t let his obsession go, Politico reports.
The greatest threat to Trump and his presidency comes from his own conduct and obsessive behavior after he took office, say administrative officials. While congressional and FBI investigations may prove Trump or his team broke laws before he took office, his advisers are more worried that the things he’s done since the inauguration may have left him exposed to obstruction of justice or other charges.
“You may be the first president in history to go down because you can’t stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that, if you just were quiet, would clear you”, Senator Lindsey Graham said last weekend.
Just as he has done publicly on Twitter, Trump has told friends and associates that the investigation is a “witch hunt” and that others are out to get him. “It’s basically all he talks about on the phone,” said one adviser who has spoken with Trump and his top aides, Politico adds.
“The frustration he feels is he fully well knows there was no collusion with Russia. And yet, he’s been on the hot seat about it for six months,” said Barry Bennett, a top campaign aide who continues to have ties to the White House. “He’s been told, ‘You’re not under investigation,’ and yet he still wakes up every day to read he’s under investigation. It’s really hard to be accused of being a traitor and take your lawyer’s advice to shut up and not talk about it”, Bennett adds.
Aides say they fear his provocative tweets and public comments have spurred “countless” leaks of damaging information, in the words of one. Chief strategist Steve Bannon has told others that he believes the FBI is now out to get the Trump administration.
Under oath, Comey testified that Trump asked him to consider letting go of an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February. Trump ordered top aides to leave the room, according to testimony from Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, before he made the request.
Then, again frustrated with the investigation, he fired Comey several months later, according to several aides and advisers, and told contradictory stories about his decision.
“And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’ It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,” Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt.
“I faced great pressure because of Russia, that’s taken off,” Trump told Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in the Oval Office, an incident first reported by The New York Times. That, according to several people who spoke to Trump, was the real reason he fired Comey.
Trump now has begun fuming about special counsel Robert Mueller, particularly after Mueller hired several prosecutors and investigators with ties to Democrats. Trump has told associates he might fire Mueller, though they don’t believe he will.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Trump was under investigation for obstruction of justice, and that Mueller wanted to interview the national security officials who reportedly had been asked to make false statements.
Trump woke up Thursday morning and appeared to question Mueller’s integrity on Twitter.
“You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people!” he wrote. White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she believed the President was responding to The Washington Post story.
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