Ahead of a public testimony, fired FBI director James Comey has confirmed media reports that Donald Trump privately urged him to drop the investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to a seven-page opening statement filed ahead of his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Comey’s written statement reinforces fears that Trump fired him to stop his probe into his Russia ties.
Yesterday, Trump appointed a lawyer Christopher Wray with links to Russian state run energy firms as the new FBI director.
Although Comey did accuse Trump of obstruction of justice, the circumstances and facts of his detailed account of interactions with Trump, often alone on Trump’s insistence, match up to just that. However, as the Russia investigation unfoldds, it seems more likely that Trump will be forced to resign or be impeached over hidden financial ties and Russian dirty money rather than over obstruction of justice.
Comey’s testimony is due to start around now at 10 am ET, and will be stream lived by a large number of media organizations and even Twitter.
About Christopher Wray’s links to Russia from the Inquistr
Just one day before fired FBI Director James Comey testifies to the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the Trump-Russia scandal, Donald Trump announced his choice to replace Comey at the FBI. But in a shocking move, Trump picked Christopher Wray, a lawyer whose firm is directly connected not merely to Russia, but in particular to the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft — a company which could play a key role in the FBI’s investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
In fact, the international law firm King and Spalding, where the 50-year-old Wray is currently a partner, not only represents Rosneft, but also the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom as well as another Russian oil company, one that King and Spalding do not identify on the firm’s website, that operates in Kazakhstan, according to a report by Bloomberg News.
A possible connection between Rosneft and Trump first appeared in the “Steele Dossier,” a privately compiled intelligence document researched and written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, detailing alleged ties between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and various Russia government and business interests. Some of the key claims in the dossier have been independently verified by United States investigators.
According to allegations in the dossier, the Russian government offered Trump adviser Carter Page a sizable commission on Russia’s sale of 19 percent of Rosneft shares to private investors — if Trump could guarantee that as president he would lift economic sanctions against Russia.
In December, Russia did, in fact, sell a 19.5 percent stake in Rosneft — a sale valued at $11 billion — in a complex and shadowy deal involving an investment fund owned by the government of Qatar. But the Qatari fund kicked in just 3 percent of the total sale price, according to a Reuters report. Other investors included a group based in the Caribbean tax haven of the Cayman Islands. Due to the lax regulations governing financial transactions in the Caymans, the identity of those buyers has never been determined.
With Page’s alleged involvement in the massive deal — allegations that Page has denied — the Rosneft deal is likely to become part of the FBI’s current investigation into the Trump-Russia connections, which would put Wray in charge of an investigation involving one of his firm’s top clients.