CNN has published a rather odd report in which it says that former FBI Director Comey “now believes” that Donald Trump tried to influence the Russiagate inquiry, but that he clearly does not think this amounted to an obstruction of justice
Former FBI Director James Comey now believes that President Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment about the Russia probe, a person familiar with his thinking says, but whether that influence amounts to obstruction of justice remains an open question.“You have to have intent in order to obstruct justice in the criminal sense,” the source said, adding that “intent is hard to prove.”
Comey’s view of Trump’s intent in their conversations is nuanced, sources say. He initially believed that he could school the new President and White House in what was appropriate during their communications. But after his firing, the question of Trump’s intent could become more problematic, one source said. Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview that he was thinking “of the Russia thing” when he dismissed Comey. Sources say Comey had reached no conclusion about the President’s intent before he was fired. But Comey did immediately recognize that the new President was not following normal protocols during their interactions.
Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog and a Comey friend, writes that Comey called his interactions with Trump “training” in order to “re-establish” appropriate boundaries. In his conversations, Wittes writes, “Comey never specifically said this was about the Russia matter” but he assumed that it was. Comey saw his job, Wittes writes, as an effort to “protect the rest of the bureau from improper contacts and interferences from a group of people he did not regard as honorable.”