A popular quote going around the internet these days shows then-FBI Director James Comey testifying before Congress on May 3. During the testimony, Comey stated, “It’s not happened in my experience” as part of his answer to a question about political pressure on the FBI. Pro-Trump circles have taken this statement to mean that the as-yet-unseen Comey memo, in which Comey allegedly claims that the president asked him to halt the investigation of Michael Flynn, is fraudulent.
Not so fast.
It seems to have been blogger Sooper Mexican who first noted that the quote was taken out of context. The explanation of why the answer to a question by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) does not contradict the content of the memo is a simple one when the entire exchange is read.
HIRONO: So, if the Attorney General or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?
COMEY: In theory, yes.
HIRONO: Has it happened?
COMEY: Not in my experience. Because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something that — without an appropriate purpose. I mean where oftentimes they give us opinions that we don’t see a case there and so you ought to stop investing resources in it. But I’m talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason, that would be a very big deal. It’s not happened in my experience.
Comey’s answer referred to a question about the attorney general and officials at the Department of Justice, not the president. Comey seems to have simply answered the question as asked and not volunteered information. This seems to show a measure of loyalty to the president.
Comey’s statement that political interference would be a “big deal” provides justification for writing a memo about Trump’s alleged request. The president’s request would have been a big deal and Comey would have felt the need to document it, whether for his own protection or as evidence in a possible future investigation.
When Comey testifies before Congress, as he undoubtedly will, about the memo and his conversation with President Trump, Republicans will have a chance to ask him directly whether the president tried to interfere with the Russia investigation. Until then, his previous testimony does not contradict his statements in the memo. For now at least, the myth that Comey is talking out of both sides of his mouth is busted.
Come on, guys and gals of the internet! Taking quotes out of context to make someone look bad is a tactic that conservatives would typically expect of the leftist media. Check your facts and context before making claims about what someone said.