Public opinion still divided on what Comey testimony Thursday wi - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Public opinion still divided on what Comey testimony Thursday will bring

In this photo taken May 8, 2017, FBI Director James Comey speaks in Washington. President Donald Trump has fired Comey. In a statement released Tuesday, May 9, Trump says Comey’s firing “will mark a new beginning” for the FBI. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) In this photo taken May 8, 2017, FBI Director James Comey speaks in Washington. President Donald Trump has fired Comey. In a statement released Tuesday, May 9, Trump says Comey’s firing “will mark a new beginning” for the FBI. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

On the eve of what will be a big day on Capitol Hill, public views were mixed on what the testimony of former FBI director James Comey before a Senate committee will mean for the Trump administration going forward.

Comey will be making his first public appearance Thursday morning since being fired by the president in May.

According to a lengthy statement released Wednesday, the former FBI director will begin his remarks by giving accounts from a series of meetings
he had with Trump beginning in January.

That includes a meeting on Feb. 14, 2017, where the president allegedly told Comey, “I hope you can see your way to letting this go” when it came to the FBI’s open investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
 
Comey wrote of that meeting:

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President.

He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go."

The passage had Democrats who oppose Trump fired up.

"You've got [in] a president, and in his administration, who appear to be selling out our democracy for money to the Russians," South Carolina Democratic Party Chairperson Trav Robertson said.

"It's starting to what we thought was a conspiracy theory...it's starting to sound more and more plausible," Robertson added.

Yet area Republicans, meanwhile, feel it will take more than Comey’s testimony to prove the president committed any wrongdoing. The former FBI director did write that after the president spoke to him on Flynn that he didn't take it as a request to drop the broader investigation into Russia or possible ties to the Trump campaign:

I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership.

I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.

I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.

I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.

"If that's the case I don't know where the investigation would go from there because that's been the story,” said Bob McAlister, who was the chief of staff to former South Carolina governor Carroll Campbell. “There may be more to the story. There may be more to the story than we know now, on the other hand, it may be a nothing burger."

Comey’s remarks before the Senate Intelligence Committee are slated to begin at 10 a.m. You can watch live coverage of the hearing on WIS 10.

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