DC bars opening early to cash in on Comey hearing mania

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While the Comey vs. Trump narrative - and the debate about obstruction - proved most dramatic, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director made clear during his testimony that Russian interference in the US election is something all Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike, should take seriously.

Still, there's no doubt the veteran lawman made for a challenging adversary.

Legal experts told VICE News that Trump's repeated private conversations with Comey, where he allegedly asked the FBI chief to end the investigation into Mike Flynn and to "lift the cloud" of the Russian Federation probe, may amount to obstruction of justice. "Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve". "And if any American were part of that, that is a very big deal".

Asked about the possibility of Trump having recorded their meetings, Comey put on his best choirboy face and enthused, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes".

The opening statement and subsequent testimony from former FBI Director James Comey were doozies that included hip, fun phrases like "obstruction of justice", "Lordy, I hope there are tapes", and "hookers in Russian Federation". Following the open hearing, Comey and the lawmaker retired to a closed session where more classified material could be discussed.

Republicans mindful of the gravity of the moment worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing.

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His sons sent a multitude of tweets attacking the ex-FBI director after his testimony.

Mr Trump later admitted that the Russian Federation investigation was part of his reasoning.

Sen. Maria Cantwell said she was in a hearing on the president's energy proposals and didn't have time to watch the entire testimony, but what she saw gave her the impression that Comey is credible and that Trump crossed the line.

"You may have taken it as a direction, but that's not what he said", Risch said. Then I think that they are obligated to prosecute. "I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it".

Asked at a USA congressional hearing why he was sacked, Comey said he did not know for sure.

He said that while he found the exchange disturbing, "that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work towards, to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that's an offense".

Trump Attorney Debunks Comey Charge
If Flynn wasn't central to the investigation, Matthews said, then he wouldn't be in a position to testify against Trump. Comey said he wanted to spur the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to take over the investigation.

Kasowitz said Comey leaked information from his own memos to news media through a friend and labeled Comey as "one of these leakers" who are "actively attempting to undermine the president".

"And my judgment was, I needed to get that out into the public square, so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with the reporter". This prevented his memory of what was said during those meetings from being called into question, DeLong said, adding that none of the intelligence committee panelists went after the facts as they were written in a statement Comey provided for the committee prior to his testimony.

"I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, so I thought it really important to document", Comey said. Tape recordings would obviously demonstrate who was being honest about what happened.

Crucially, few Republicans tried to say that Comey's testimony wasn't true, instead leaving that task to Trump's private lawyer Marc Kasowitz. As Mr Comey himself acknowledges, during the key meetings with the president, the two men were the only ones in the room. With the exception of Susan Collins, a moderate Republican (if that's not an oxymoron at this point), all of the senators asked leading questions designed either to exonerate or condemn Trump. And in a legal sense, you could say that he did.

As noted above, that's not exactly what Mr Comey said - but it's close enough for the White House, it seems. "Maybe if I were stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation I just took it in".

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