Fellow Republicans are pressing President Donald Trump to come clean about whether he has tapes of private conversations with former FBI director James Comey.
And if he does, they want the president to hand them over to Congress or else possibly face a subpoena.
The request is a sign of escalating fallout from riveting testimony from Comey last week of undue pressure from Trump. Trump has responded to Comey’s assertions by accusing him of lying.
Meanwhile, the Senate investigation into collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice is extending to a Trump Cabinet member.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in for sharp questioning Tuesday by senators on the Senate intelligence committee. Whether that hearing will be public or closed is not yet known.
Meanwhile, an attorney and broadcaster with longtime ties to a Christian legal organization has joined Trump’s outside legal team to deal with the Russia probes.
Jay Sekulow has been the chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice since 1990, focusing on free speech and religious liberty cases. The ACLJ was founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.
Sekulow hosts a daily radio show and a weekly TV program. He has publicly defended Trump amid the Russia firestorm, including following Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill.
The president’s outside legal team is being led by a longtime Trump attorney, Marc Kasowitz. Kasowitz has declared Trump ‘completely vindicated’ by Comey’s assertion that he told the president he was not personally a target of the FBI’s investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with Russia during the election.
Most Democrats are being cautious about whether Trump might have obstructed justice in the Russia investigation and his dealings with Comey. Obstruction is a serious and complicated matter.
But the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says it’s a question worth examining.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California wants the committee to investigate “all matters related to obstruction of justice and use its subpoena authority if necessary.”
So she said in a letter to the committee’s chairman, GOP Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa.
Feinstein told CNN’S State of the Union she won’t draw any conclusions about obstruction until the matter is investigated.
Comey testified last week before the Intelligence committee. Feinstein says that with the president’s integrity at issue, it should be “all hands on deck” for lawmakers trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
Do tapes exist?
A Republican senator is taking Trump to task for not clearing up a burning question: whether he has tape recordings of his conversations with Comey.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says Trump had a chance to settle the matter when he held a news conference Friday at the White House, but didn’t.
Her opinion: “He should give a straight yes or no to the answer – to the question of whether or not the tapes exist.” And she says the president should voluntarily hand them over to the Senate Intelligence committee and the special counsel.
Collins told CNN’s State of the Union that she doesn’t “think a subpoena should be necessary.” And she doesn’t “understand why the president just doesn’t clear this matter up once and for all.”