New Reports that Trump Asked Comey to Stop Investigation Test Democracy, Again

May 16, 2017

The New York Times reported today that President Donald Trump asked former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The paper reports that the request came in a February meeting, and was detailed in a memo written by Comey.  

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released the following statement:

“If these reports are accurate, this is an assault on the rule of law. The president’s request is beyond the pale and poses an extraordinary test for our democracy. Our system depends on the rule of law and checks and balances. This appears to be textbook obstruction of justice and abuse of power.”

The following Brennan Center team members with expertise in the presidency, FBI, oversight of intelligence activities, and national security are available to comment:

  • Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center, is an expert on the presidency. He served as White House Director of Speechwriting for Bill Clinton. He recently wrote a column in The Daily Beast on Trump’s decision to fire Comey, showing how it constituted an obstruction of justice.  
  • Elizabeth (Liza) Goitein is the co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. She focuses on a range of issues at the intersection of national security policy and civil liberties, including surveillance practices of law enforcement agencies like the FBI. She’s also an expert on oversight mechanisms in place for intelligence activities. She recently wrote a column in Fortune, where she said Trump’s actions regarding Comey “post an immediate and ongoing threat to the rule of law.”
  • Faiza Patel is the co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. She focuses on national security and counterterrorism issues. She recently wrote a piece in The Daily Beast talking about how Trump’s own words, especially on Comey’s firing and the Muslim ban, keep coming back to haunt him.
  • Michael German, a Brennan Center fellow, is a sixteen-year veteran of federal law enforcement who served as a special agent with the FBI, where he focused on domestic terrorism cases and covert operations. He twice infiltrated extremist groups using constitutionally sound law enforcement techniques, and left the Bureau after reporting ongoing deficiencies in FBI counterterrorism operations to Congress.
  • Wendy Weiser is the director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, which focuses on issues including voting rights and elections, money in politics, government dysfunction, and fair courts.
  • Nicole Austin-Hillery is director and counsel of the Brennan Center's Washington, D.C., office. She is the organization's chief liaison to Congress and the Administration, serving as an advocate for the Brennan Center on a host of justice and democracy issues.

To set up an interview with any of the experts above, please contact Rebecca Autrey at Rebecca.Autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.

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