John Sununu said the former FBI director had an opportunity to tell the president his remarks were inappropriate, but he didn’t do it.
Former Governor John Sununu on Monday told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that former FBI Director James Comey didn’t have the backbone to take advantage of his one-on-one meeting with President Trump.
Camerota asked Sununu why he thinks President Trump will be fully vindicated after Comey’s testimony last week revealed that Trump had asked to talk with Comey alone regarding the investigation into Michael Flynn.
“To leave the room so [Trump] could say to the head of the FBI, ‘I sure wish that you could back off this investigation of…Michael Flynn–'” Camerota began her question.
Sununu called Camerota out for her framing of the situation, saying that Trump didn’t say he wished Comey would back off the investigation of Flynn but rather he hoped.
“What’s the difference?” Camerota asked.
“The difference is that you have put a different spin on it,” Sununu explained.
“First of all, in asking folks to leave the room, presidents often grant Cabinet members and folks who lead major departments the courtesy of having a one-on-one with the president,” Sununu continued. “Comey’s problem is what he himself described. He didn’t have the backbone to take advantage of that one-on-one to tell the president what he should have told him, that the president should not be leaning in any direction on these issues, and if Comey felt uncomfortable, he had an obligation to tell the president in that one-on-one.”
“Why is there any pressure … if the president merely repeats, in an aspirational way, what Comey already knew going in?” Sununu pondered.
Sununu concluded, “This idea that somehow that sentence implies pressure is ridiculous. The only pressure that could have been implied there is because Comey didn’t have the backbone if he felt there was pressure to tell the president that that’s not right.”
“So the way you see it, it is incumbent on the FBI director to tell the President of the United States, ‘that is out of bounds, you are being inappropriate,’ not on the President of the United States to stop himself from asking something inappropriate of the FBI director?” Camerota followed up.
“He didn’t ask,” Sununu retorted. “You see, that’s the problem. You keep spinning it to an ask, instead of an expression of an aspirational expression.”
“The point is that every time you try to talk about it, you try to make ‘I hope that this Flynn thing will go away’ pressure point. It is not a pressure point,” Sununu concluded. “But if Comey took it as a pressure point, even incorrectly took it as a pressure point, he should have said something in the private conversation that the president had the courtesy to give him.”
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