After staying silent during a day of extraordinary testimony from fired FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump on Friday declared that he had been vindicated in the probe of meddling by Russia in the 2016 elections, and whether or not there were any links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication,” Mr. Trump said in a tweet just after 6 am ET, as he took one more jab at the former FBI chief whom he fired a month ago.
“WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Mr. Trump said in his first tweet in almost 48 hours.
As Democrats got out of bed on Friday, they were in no mood to concede the end of the investigation, as they said the President still needed to answer questions about the Russia probe, as they pointed toward Comey’s assertion that Mr. Trump had initially misled Americans on why he fired the FBI chief.
“It is essential for our country that the President offer his testimony to Congress about what exactly happened,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).
“Vindicated?” asked Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Comey said he had “no doubt” that you fired him “to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.'”
In Congress there were few signs that Republicans were breaking with Mr. Trump, even though many GOP lawmakers have quietly expressed concerns about the Russia probe, and how the President has treated the investigation, as some GOP lawmakers kept the focus on Comey.
“James Comey should have resigned if he believes what he now says,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), one of the GOP Senators who questioned Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Mr. Trump’s morning tweet ended one of his longest spells during his time in office where he had not been on Twitter – as some Republicans echoed his sentiments about Comey’s admission that he had leaked details from one of his memos about a meeting with President Obama.
“How could Comey investigate felony leaks of classified information when he is a self confessed leaker of White House “privileged communications?” asked Rep. Steve King (R-IA).
“The more we find out, this guy needed to go,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX).
Republicans also pointed to a quote from legal expert Alan Dershowitz – “The last person in the world who should be leaking information is the director of the FBI,” Dershowitz said in an interview on MSNBC.
It was a month ago today that Mr. Trump fired Comey, who made clear in his Thursday testimony that he believed the President had made that choice, in order to rein in the investigation into Russian meddling.
In a rebuke to Mr. Trump, Comey said there was no ‘fake news’ involved in the story of Russian interference.
Not all Republicans were in line with Mr. Trump, as some who have been critical of the President from early in his candidacy again expressed their reservations about his ability to tell the truth.
“Donald Trump Actually Is a Serial Liar. That is a Real Problem After the Comey Testimony,” wrote conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson.