As Justice Department Sends Comey Memos to Congress, House Leaders Argue Over Obstruction Charges

In newly released and redacted memos, interactions between former FBI Director James Comey and President Donald Trump come to light, detailing their private discussions about the Russia investigation, Michael Flynn, and a slew of other topics.

The infamous memos, written by Comey in the months before his firing, were leaked to the media last year, sparking speculation that Trump obstructed justice by suggesting Comey end the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. The memos were sent from the Justice Department to Congress on Thursday night.

The collection of memos, running 15 pages, were obtained by several news outlets soon after.

“What follows are notes I typed in the vehicle immediately upon exiting Trump Tower on 1/6/17,” Comey writes at the beginning of his first memo detailing a conversation he had with the newly-elected Trump.

House Republicans demanded that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is heading up the Russia investigation, send the memos to Congress, and unredacted versions are expected to be made available to Congress on Friday.

According to The New York Times, Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, wrote to lawmakers on Thursday to approve the release of the memos.

“In light of the unusual events occurring since the previous limited disclosure, the department has consulted the relevant parties and concluded that the release of the memorandums to Congress at this time would not adversely impact any ongoing investigation or other confidentiality interests of the executive branch,” Boyd said in the letter.

Meanwhile, lawmakers reached very different conclusions about the revelations of the memos and what they mean for the character of Comey.

The memos confirm previous reports that Trump casually asked Comey to end the FBI’s probe into Flynn, who was the president’s first national security adviser.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said, according to the memo.

Congressional Democrats have clamored that such instances constitute obstruction of justice on the part of Trump, but their Republican counterparts have argued that Comey has no credibility.

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Oversight Committee, issued a joint statement in which they attacked Comey, accusing him of bias and bad judgment.

“[While Comey] went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation,” they wrote.

As the Justice Department prepared to release unredacted versions of the memos, stay tuned for key takeaways and new details revealed by the messages.

The president weighed in on the release of the memos, repeated his claim that there was no wrongdoing in his interactions with Russian or the FBI and slamming Comey for revealing government secrets.

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