Concerned that he is facing impeachment after prosecutors linked him to criminal activity, Donald Trump insists that there is no “smocking gun” tying him to Russia political interference.
Trump used the phrase twice in a Monday morning tweet, written as he watched the pro-Trump program Fox and Friends:
“Democrats can’t find a Smocking Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking Gun…No Collusion.” @FoxNews That’s because there was NO COLLUSION. So now the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution,…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018
Trump’s tweet was an attempt to twist the Friday appearance of former FBI Director James Comey — fired by Trump in May 2017, in a failed effort to halt the Trump-Russia investigation — before the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees.
Far from admitting no “smocking gun”, Comey rejected Trump’s framing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt”. He said the inquiry into a political campaign was unprecedented: “I believe it’s incredibly important to the rule of law in this country that the work be allowed to finish.”
Anticipating Trump’s response, the former FBI director denounced the smearing of the Justice Department and the FBI: “It’s shortsighted, and anybody who knows those organizations, knows it’s not true.” He summarized:
The aim of the Russian effort in 2016 was to destabilize, undermine, damage our democracy. That was their overwhelming goal. And so you have a foreign nation that is attacking the United States of America in an effort to undermine that which is essentially us, our democratic process. So that’s a very serious threat.
And understanding whether any Americans were part of that effort is incredibly important because the threat of those Americans by virtue of their alliance with the Russians would pose to our country.
Legal and Political Pressure on Trump
A “source close to the President” said Trump has expressed concern about a “real possibility” of impeachment when Democrats take over the House of Representatives in January.
The legal and political tension escalated on Friday when Federal prosecutors claimed for the first time that Trump was involved in criminal activity. In a sentencing recommendation for his long-time lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, the prosecutors said he “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” his boss over payments in 2016 to two women about their claims of sexual encounters with Trump.
Another “source close to the White House” put out a half-full statement, saying that “the only issue that may stick” in the impeachment process is the campaign finance violations over the payoffs — thus playing down any findings from the Trump-Russia investigation.
Comey and leading Democrats said on Sunday that criminal prosecution of Trump is now a possibility.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, summarized, “My takeaway is there’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office the Justice Department may indict him, that he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time.”