49 questions for James Comey

49 questions for James Comey
© Keren Carrion

Senators in both parties have been salivating at the chance to ask James Comey questions ever since he was abruptly fired by President Trump as FBI director last month.

On Thursday, they’ll finally get their chance.

Here are 49 questions that may be asked.

 

Obstruction of justice

1. Do you feel that Trump asking you to “let go” of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn should be considered obstruction of justice?

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2. Do you believe that your firing should be considered obstruction of justice? 

3. Did you report any interference from Trump to anyone else within the executive branch? Why or why not?

4. Did Trump pressure or ask you to alter the course of any investigations other than the investigation into Russian election meddling?

5. On May 3, you told Congress that you had not been pressured by the Department of Justice to halt any investigation for political reasons. Why didn't you inform Congress at that time of the discussions you had with the president? 

6. Did any other members of the Trump administration attempt to exert this kind of pressure on your or anyone else connected to the investigation?

 

Relationship with Trump

7. You write in your statement that you wrote memos to memorialize all conversations with Trump despite never feeling the need to do so with his predecessor. What about the first meeting with Trump made you so concerned that you started to do this right away? 

8. When Trump called you out and you shook his hand on camera in January, did you see that as an attempt to compromise you in the eyes of the public, as people close to you have said? 

9. You write that the president asked for loyalty. From which appointees is it appropriate to ask for this and from which is it not?

 

The firing

10. In an interview after your firing, Trump called you a “grandstander” and a “showboat.” Were you ever told by Trump, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions Trump to lawmakers pressing Sessions to investigate Comey and Clinton: 'Good luck with that' Five takeaways from Trump adding Giuliani Trump disputes report that he calls Sessions 'Mr. Magoo' MORE or anyone else in the executive branch before your firing that this aspect of your job performance was subpar?

11. Had the president ever mentioned the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton takes swipe at 'false equivalency' in media coverage of 2016 election Former presidents, first ladies come together to honor Barbara Bush Romney: Parts of Comey book read 'too much like a novel’ MORE controversies to you before your firing?

12. Were you informed of any other problems with your job performance?

13. Do you believe that the Russia investigation had a role in Trump's decision to let you go?

14. Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, but he was reportedly involved in the decision to fire you. Do you think that involvement violates his recusal?

15. Did you have any conversations with Rosenstein between April 25 — when the Senate confirmed him — and May 9, the day you were fired?

16. Have you had any communication with any member of the administration since your firing?

 

Russian investigation

17. Do you believe the investigation was in any way altered by your firing? 

18. Do you anticipate the public will, at any time, have a nearly complete picture of the events surrounding the Russia investigation and your firing?

19. Do you agree with Rosenstein's decision to appoint a special counsel?

20. Have you talked to Robert Mueller since he was appointed as special counsel? Did you coordinate any of what you are saying today with him? 

21. In preparing for this testimony, with whom did you consult?

 

Trump’s post-firing comments

22. In your statement, you write that you told the president on Jan. 6 that he was not under investigation. Did you notify the president that he was not under counterintelligence investigation by the FBI? 

23. How many times did you tell the president he was not under criminal investigation?

24. Would it be reasonable to assume the president should know the difference between counterintelligence and criminal investigations?

25. How often did the president ask if he was under investigation?

26. Is it appropriate for the president to ask this?

27. The president has repeatedly mentioned that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was no evidence of his collusion with Russia. Clapper has said he was unaware of any investigation until after the end of his term — something he said was within your working agreement. Why did you withhold notice of the investigation?

 

The recordings

28. Trump said that if you told the story of your meeting as reported in the press, you should hope there were no recordings. Did you take this as a threat?

29. Do you believe the president ever recorded your conversations?

30. If he did so, did he do so legally?

31. Would you consent to the release of those recordings?

 

Leaks

32. Have you leaked any information to the press since being fired?

33. Are you aware of anyone who has?

34. Do you believe that leakers acting in your defense should stop?

35. What can the new director do to stem the tide of leaks?

 

Justice

36. There have been reports that Sessions offered to resign, and in your statement you say you asked that he not leave you alone with the president. The Department of Justice is missing key executive personnel, and, three months after firing just under half of the U.S. attorneys, the president hasn’t nominated any replacements. Is the current state of the Department of Justice acceptable?

37. Would you recommend to Christopher Wray, Trump’s nominee to succeed you, that he accept the position?

38. What advice would you give him?

39. Is it realistic to ever assume the FBI director will return to a 10-year, multiple-administration term without routine firing?

40. What do you think of Wray as your successor?

 

On renewing a controversial section of intelligence law

41. What would happen if Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Section 702, which allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to record communications between foreign citizens outside the U.S., is not renewed when it expires this Congress?

42. There are concerns about the potential for abuse in 702 surveillance and unmasking related to inadvertently recorded conversations. Do you understand these concerns? What are reasonable new safeguards to address them?

43. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) expressed concerns that his conversations might have been unmasked. Are you aware of any elected officials who have been unmasked for any reason other than to identify threats against them?

 

The NSA leak 

44. Is Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators chart path forward on election security bill Comey memo fallout is mostly fizzle Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel MORE (D-Va.) correct in stating that the scope of attacks levied by Russian hackers against election officials is far broader than the public thinks? 

45. In its efforts to aid and monitor European elections, did the United States track any similar threats?

 

Comey

46. What will you do going forward? Do you plan to write a book on all this?

47. Would you ever return to government service?

48. What advice do you have for people taking appointed positions?

49. What have you been up to over the past few weeks?