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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Thursday vouched for President Trump’s assertion in a letter to former FBI Director James Comey that he was not under investigation by the FBI.
Grassley told committee members at an executive meeting that he and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had met with Comey last week, and that he had briefed them on who the targets of the various investigations are.
“Senator Feinstein and I heard nothing that contradicted the President’s statement,” he said.
Feinstein then said after Grassley’s statement, “I very much appreciate what you’ve said and it’s very accurate, and we were briefed.”
Grassley said that, shortly after Comey had briefed them, he had tweeted that the then-FBI director should be more transparent.
“I said he should tell the public what he told Senator Feinstein and me about whether the FBI is or is not investigating the President,” he said.
“Now Mr. Comey is no longer the FBI director. But the FBI should still follow my advice. It should confirm to the public whether it is or is not investigating the President. Because it has failed to make this clear, speculation has run rampant.”
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Comey refused to confirm whether the president was under FBI investigation, saying that doing so put him on a slippery slope of having to answer who else is or is not under investigation.
“I understand why he took that position, but I don’t agree – at least not when it comes to the President and senior government officials. The American people deserve to know if senior government officials are under active criminal or intelligence investigation,” Grassley said.
The speculation went into overdrive on Wednesday, after Trump fired Comey in a surprise move. In Trump’s letter to Comey announcing the firing, he wrote: “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”
Grassley said wild speculation that the FBI is targeting the president is “not just irresponsible and unfounded,” but also played into Russian goals to undermine the American public’s faith in democratic institutions.
“It provides aid and comfort to the Russians and their goal of undermining faith in our democracy,” he said.
Grassley also suggested other committee members get briefed by the FBI on “what is actually going on” before the committee does anything more in its investigation on Russian interference in the election.
“Hopefully, that will help temper some of the unsubstantiated statements that have been made,” he said.