President Donald Trump aimed a Sunday tweet at ousted FBI Director James Comey, calling him a “cowardly” leaker, as fired Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara recounted what he saw as parallels between his contacts with Trump and those Comey testified about Thursday.
“I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible,” Trump tweeted. “Totally illegal? Very ‘cowardly!’ ”
He provided no proof to back up his claim of more leaks from Comey, whom he fired May 9.
The president also criticized familiar targets: the mainstream news media and Democrats. He said he deserved more credit for economic gains and stock market confidence.
Meanwhile, Bharara, in an interview with ABC News’ “This Week,” said Trump called him twice while he was president-elect. He said he didn’t return a third call, which Trump placed after taking office.
“They’re very unusual phone calls and, sort of, when I’ve been reading the stories about how the president has been contacting Jim Comey over time, feel a little bit like déjà vu,” Bharara said. “And I’m not the FBI director, but I was the chief federal law enforcement officer in Manhattan with jurisdiction over a lot of things including, you know, business interests and other things.”
His jurisdiction included Trump Tower.
“It appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship,” Bharara said of Trump, adding that former President Barack Obama had never called him.
Bharara, who was fired March 11 and attended Comey’s Senate hearing Thursday, said there was “absolutely evidence to begin a case” of obstruction of justice against Trump.
White House press officials did not respond Sunday to requests for clarity on Trump’s tweet about “prevalent” leaking by Comey.
A member of the president’s outside legal team seized on Comey’s admission that he gave an unclassified memo he penned to a friend to share with The New York Times. Jay Sekulow, speaking on “This Week,” called such a leak “unprecedented.”
Sekulow would not say whether Trump has tapes of his Oval Office conversations with Comey — a possibility the president had warned of in a tweet last month.
Trump has denied that he asked for Comey’s loyalty and for Comey to drop an FBI probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey detailed both requests under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The president said Friday that he would discuss the existence of tapes in the “very near future.” He also said he is “100 percent” willing to share his version of events under oath.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) extended an invitation Sunday for Trump to testify before the Senate.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a Senate Intelligence Committee member, said of Trump recordings of Comey, “I doubt that they’re really there.”
Lankford and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — both appeared on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” — said they see Trump’s conduct with Comey as inappropriate, but do not believe it rises to obstruction of justice.
Graham asked Trump to focus on his legislative agenda instead of tweeting about Comey.
“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,” he said.
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel noted on “Fox News Sunday” that no evidence has yet been produced of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, which the U.S. intelligence community and elected officials of both parties conclude meddled in last year’s election.
She criticized Comey’s interpretation on Trump’s “hope” that he let the Flynn probe go as a directive.
“There’s a difference between saying, ‘I hope you do your homework’ and ‘Go do your homework,’ ” she said.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to testify Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, potentially on his contacts during Trump’s campaign with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told “State of the Union” that Sessions should also come before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Graham, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, said the same on “Face the Nation,” but suggested that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch also should testify.
Comey had said he came to question Lynch’s independence in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
“If the attorney general’s office has become a political office, that’s bad for us all,” Graham said. “So I want to get to the bottom of that.”