Jul 7, 2018

Trump lawyer worked to undermine Comey in memo to special counsel

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's head lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, wrote a memo to the special counsel last June which referred to former FBI Director James Comey as "Machiavellian," and "unbounded by law and regulation," according to the Associated Press which obtained the letter.

The big picture: Comey is seen as a "critical witness against the president," and undermining his credibility has been a frequent goal from the Trump camp. Kasowitz says in the 13-page document that Comey put his "own personal interests and emotions" above FBI rules by embellishing his statement before Congress, the AP reports, and therefore shouldn't be trusted by the special counsel as a witness.

Excerpts from the letter:

"There is no 'honest loyalty' in an FBI Director surreptitiously leaking to civilians his privileged and confidential conversations with the president, or misappropriating and disseminating his confidential FBI memos or their contents about those meetings. There is no 'honest loyalty' in using those civilians as surrogates to feed stolen information and memos to the press to achieve a personal, political, and retributive objective of harming a sitting president."

"Over the last year, Mr. Comey has engaged in a pattern of calculated unilateral action unbounded by governing law, regulation and practice, and plainly motivated by personal and political self-interest."

"Despite his repeated assurances to the President over the prior three months that he was not under investigation...Mr. Comey not only declined to clarify that there was no investigation of the President, but he used broad language that only reinforced the inaccurate perception that the President was under investigation."

"Kasowitz criticizes Comey for announcing the conclusion of the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton, saying that "Mr. Comey continued his Machiavellian behavior after President Trump was elected."

Go deeper

Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.