A letter sent yesterday by Sen. Chuck Grassley backs up a claim made in the House Intel report released last month and contradicts statements made by former Director Comey on his book tour. Specifically, Grassley says Comey told his Senate Committee the FBI agents who interviewed Michael Flynn saw no evidence he was lying. From Grassley’s letter:
On February 15, 2017, this Committee requested on a bipartisan basis a copy of the transcript of the widely reported call between Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador and the FBI report summarizing the intercepted calls. The Justice Department declined to provide any of that information, and instead then-FBI Director Comey provided a wide-ranging briefing to us on March 15, 2017 that touched on the Flynn issues.
Like the Flynn interview itself, that briefing was not transcribed. Also like the Flynn interview, there are notes taken by a career, non-partisan law enforcement officer who was present. The agent was on detail to the Committee staff at the time. According to that agent’s contemporaneous notes, Director Comey specifically told us during that briefing that the FBI agents who interviewed Lt. General Michael Flynn, “saw nothing that led them to believe [he was] lying.” Our own Committee staff’s notes indicate that Mr. Comey said the “agents saw no change in his demeanor or tone that would say he was being untruthful.”
That’s significant because it matches what the House Intelligence Committee says Comey told the House in a briefing around the same time as the one given to the Senate. “Director Comey testified to the committee that ‘the agents…discerned no physical indications of deception. They didn’t see any change in posture, in tone, in inflection, in eye contact. They saw nothing that indicated to them that he knew he was lying to them,'” the report states based on a transcript of the briefing.
More importantly, the House and Senate records are directly at odds with what Comey has said in recent interviews during his book tour about what he told lawmakers during those briefings. The Washington Examiner points out several instances where Comey has denied saying the FBI agents saw no evidence Flynn was lying:
During publicity interviews for his book, A Higher Loyalty, Comey has been asked several times whether he told lawmakers that the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe Flynn had lied.
“No,” Comey told Fox News’ Bret Baier. “I don’t know what — maybe someone misunderstood something I said. I didn’t believe that and didn’t say that.”
“Not true,” Comey told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
“I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Comey told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “That — unless I’m — I said something that people misunderstood, I don’t remember even intending to say that. So, my recollection is I never said that to anybody.”
Why is Comey changing his story? He could say that he made those statements back in March 2017 but that subsequent investigation by the Special Counsel concluded Flynn was not telling the truth, resulting in his pleading guilty to lying to the FBI in November of 2017. Instead of saying that, Comey is claiming he didn’t say what two different contemporaneous accounts show he said.
And it’s not the first time Comey’s recollection of what happened has seemed a bit off. In one of those same book tour interviews, he claimed he still didn’t know for sure who had paid for the production of the dossier (hint: It was Hillary and the DNC) and also claimed it was first funded by Republicans.
Comey did tell two different gatherings of lawmakers that the FBI saw no indications Flynn lied. His claims currently that he didn’t say that look like pretty obvious lies. Someone should ask him why he’s not telling the truth about something as basic as this.