During former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked Comey why he did not publicly disclose that President Donald Trump was not under investigation in connection to the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 general election. Rubio asked Comey about private conversations he had with Trump, which he recorded in a series of memoranda which he subsequently leaked to the media.
“We keep talking about this cloud, you perceive the cloud to be the Russia investigation in general, but the specific ask [from Trump] was that you would tell the American people what you had already told him, what you had already told the leaders of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, that he was not personally under investigation,” Rubio asked.
“Yes sir,” Comey said. Comey was sworn in at the onset of the testimony.
“Just to be clear, for you to make a public statement that he was not under investigation would not have been illegal but you felt it made no sense because it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed,” Rubio asked.
“I wrestled with it before my testimony where I confirmed that there was an investigation and that there was two primary concerns,” Comey said. “One was that it creates a duty to correct, which I’ve lived before and you want to be very careful about doing that, and second it’s a slippery slope because if we say the president and the vice president aren’t under investigation, what’s the principled basis for stopping?”
Rubio found that Comey’s decision was questionable, and said that the investigation into Russia’s political influence has been riddled with leaks to the media. He said that by deciding not to tell the American people the information about Trump served to imply that the presiden was potentially part of the investigation.
“This investigation is full of leaks left and right,” Rubio said. “We’ve learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we do from our open hearings for sure. You ever wonder why in this Russia investigation the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation?”
“I don’t know, I find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held in my experience,” Comey said. The Gang of Eight are the leaders among Democrats and Republicans in each of the chambers of Congress, plus each chamber's intelligence committee.