WASHINGTON — President Trump called James Comey "cowardly" and Donald Trump Jr. described the ousted FBI director as "a dishonest man of bad character" as the White House braced to deal with continuing fallout from the Russian investigations.
The president seized not on Comey's account of his private meetings with Trump but rather on his acknowledgement before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that he had a friend leak his contemporaneous memo about what happened to a New York Times reporter.
"I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible," Trump said in a tweet posted Sunday morning. "Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!' "
I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!'— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2017
A more extensive defense was launched by the president's oldest son, who in an interview Saturday on Fox News said Comey had "proven himself to be a liar in all this." However, Trump Jr. also seemed to confirm Comey's claim that the president told him he hoped the FBI director would "let go" of the investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Trump gave his version of his father's one-on-one conversation with Comey. "'Hey, hope this happens but you got to do your job.' That's what he told Comey," Trump Jr. said. That's at odds with the president's comments at a Rose Garden news conference Friday, when he said "I didn't say that." And on Thursday, his lawyer, Marc Kasowitz said Trump "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that Mr. Comey 'let Flynn go.'"
More testimony on Russian meddling in the 2016 election is ahead. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to testify Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is scheduled to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Republican National Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel called the congressional investigations into alleged collusion between Trump associates and the Russians "fishing expeditions" and issued a formal call for them to end. "The American people want it to stop," she declared. "It needs to end."
On CBS' Face the Nation, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the president's biggest challenge may not be Comey's comments but Trump's tweets. "Now, what the president did was inappropriate,” Graham said, referring to his one-on-one talks with Comey. “But here's what's so frustrating for Republicans like me. You may be the first president in history to go down because you can't stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet, would clear you.”
In a string of tweets Sunday morning, Trump also accused the mainstream news media — which he dubbed "the #FakeNews MSM" — of refusing to cover good economic news.
...way up. Regulations way down. 600,000+ new jobs added. Unemployment down to 4.3%. Business and economic enthusiasm way up- record levels!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2017
He also blasted the opposition party. "The Democrats have no message, not on economics, not on taxes, not on jobs, not on failing #Obamacare," he wrote. "They are only OBSTRUCTIONISTS!"
The Democrats have no message, not on economics, not on taxes, not on jobs, not on failing #Obamacare. They are only OBSTRUCTIONISTS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2017
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