Comey Accuses Trump of ‘Hoping’ - But, Admits No One’s Ever Been Charged for It

By Craig Bannister | June 8, 2017 | 4:59pm EDT
Comey, Senator Spar Over Legality of "Hoping"

While Former FBI Director James Comey and Democrat senators repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of saying he “hoped” for something, one Republican got Comey to admit that “hoping” is not a crime - yet.

On Thursday, Comey testified in a Senate hearing regarding his interactions as FBI director with Trump regarding an FBI investigation into Michael Flynn’s dealings with Russia.

Comey had suggested that – by “hoping”- Trump had, somehow, obstructed the investigation by ordering Comey to let the matter go because Flynn was such a decent person.

But, when Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) pressed him, Comey admitted that he had merely “interpreted” Trump’s “hope” to be an order – and that no one has ever been charged with the crime of “hoping." But, Comey appeared to leave the door open, by adding the folksy qualifier, "as I sit here."

Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries both define "hope" as "wanting something to happen" or be the case.

Sen. Risch: Thank you. All right. So those three things we now know regarding the active measures, whether the president is under investigation and the collusion between the trump campaign and the Russians. I want to drill right down, as my time is limited, to the most recent dust up regarding allegations that the president of the United States obstructed justice. Boy, you nailed this down on page 5, paragraph 3. You put this in quotes. Words matter.

You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There's 28 words now in quotes. It says, quote, “I hope” – this is the president speaking – “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Now, those are his exact words, is that correct?

James Comey: Correct.

Sen. Risch: You wrote them here and put them in quotes.

Comey: Correct.

Sen. Risch: Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?

Comey: Not in his words, no.

Sen. Risch: He did not order you to let it go?

Comey: Again, those words are not an order.

Sen. Risch: He said, “I hope.”

“Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they “hoped” for an outcome?

Comey: I don't know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction.

Sen. Risch: Right.

Comey: I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it.

Sen. Risch: You may have taken it as a direction, but that's not what he said.

Comey: Correct.

Sen. Risch: He said, “I hope.”

Comey: Those are his exact words, correct.

Sen. Risch: You don't know of anyone that's ever been charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement?

Comey: I don't, as I sit here.

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