As Democrats and some Republicans criticize President Donald Trump after the release of fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony, which alleges that Trump said over dinner, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” one of the men Trump considered to replace Comey is revealing that no such request was made to him.
Trump announced Wednesday that he would nominate Christopher A. Wray, the former assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, to succeed Comey. Trump previously said that former senator and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman was one of his top choices, before Lieberman withdrew his name from consideration.
On CNN’s “Erin Burnett Outfront,” Lieberman was asked if Trump sought any form of a loyalty pledge during their discussions, which occurred after Trump fired Comey. Lieberman said, “I can say he did not make any demand like that at all. … In fact, you might say the contrary.”
Analyzing Comey’s prepared remarks, Lieberman pointed out that Comey’s testimony appears to validate Trump’s claims that Comey told him multiple times that he was not the subject of an investigation. He said that “effectively means at least when Comey was involved, that there was not evidence that the President was involved in any potential collusion with Russia or anybody in his campaign that assisted their interference in the campaign.”
He said “the most serious allegation is the statement by Director Comey that the President asked him essentially not to pursue the investigation of Gen. Flynn,” but that “the President, I presume, will say that he never said anything like that.”
Lieberman cautioned that even if Comey’s allegations are true, he would not yet consider it obstruction of justice.
“We have to see what the testimony is,” he said. “This is a prepared statement. There’s going to be very aggressive questioning tomorrow, and then in fairness, there is another side, who is the President.”
Lieberman also said he believed it was unprecedented for Comey’s remarks to be released the day before he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“I don’t remember in my 24 years in the Senate, and I was involved in a lot of investigative hearings, ever having testimony released the day before,” the former senator said. “One of the things it does, it gets it out there, but it also gives the members of the committee that he’ll be before tomorrow overnight to really sharpen their questions, and you might say cross-examination.”
Lieberman is a senior counsel at the law firm that President Trump has retained to represent him in the Russia investigation, which Lieberman cited as the reason for withdrawing from the FBI director search.