A transcript of President Trump’s Jan. 6 news conference that the Republican National Committee released Wednesday lists instances when he was critical of former FBI Director James Comey and of how the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton’s emails.
“It’s very important to find out what the hell was going on,” Trump told reporters at the time, adding that “nobody has ever seen any collusion between — with Hillary and the Russians. But everybody thinks there is.”
“Nobody has ever seen any collusion. With Comey, nobody ever saw any collusion,” Trump said.
Comey was fired by Trump, and excerpts of his new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” have raised questions about who else knew what and when in the case.
But GOP attorneys are now arguing in federal court that Trump is entitled to his own account of those events.
The attorneys cited the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination that Trump has long argued to be no different than it is for his detractors. They argue that he must be permitted to compel the testimony of those who have shared with him information that might otherwise be deemed a crime.
Trump attorney Joseph diGenova told The Washington Examiner Wednesday that the president is seeking documents and other records “from the bottom up,” rather than just relating to Comey.
DiGenova and Michael Dreeben are representing Trump in a lawsuit seeking special counsel Robert Mueller’s search warrant to access documents related to Trump’s firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
They argued in their filing that documents in Mueller’s possession pertaining to Comey’s firing could similarly be deemed privileged and exempt from disclosure.
“The president is very interested in” the documents because of their potential ties to Comey, diGenova said. “But he’s not interested in the documents so much as the testimony.”
The request includes a request for notes from those meetings and a request for “any and all” documents belonging to White House counsel Don McGahn from Jan. 6-7.
McGahn’s business records were seized in raids of the office and hotel room of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a close associate of Trump.
For similar reasons, Democrats are seeking information from Trump’s conversations with McGahn, including a Jan. 9 text message from McGahn’s phone that reads, “This is a great opportunity for us.”
Earlier this month, Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi wrote a letter to newly confirmed Attorney General William Barr asking for copies of Trump’s communications with McGahn.
Democrats are using the same constitutional arguments they made in their suits against Republicans seeking Hillary Clinton’s emails to make those arguments against Republicans asking for Trump’s Comey-related documents.
One example from Krishnamoorthi’s suit was that Clinton’s lawyers had a constitutional claim that the FBI had been overly aggressive in the email probe, and they made a show of having “some confidence in [FBI] guidance.”
“For an agency charged with protecting the public good, the (Republican) campaign to uncover the documents reflected a certain degree of chutzpah,” Krishnamoorthi said in that Feb. 5 letter.