James Comey’s bombshell testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday raised new legal questions about the propriety and legality of both Comey and President Trump’s conduct and the future of the Russia election meddling investigation.
Here’s what legal experts told ABC News.
If Comey told the truth, did President Trump commit obstruction of justice?
Legal experts are split.
“Insofar as Trump intended to shut down an ongoing valid investigation of possible wrongdoing by his close advisers — all of which should be clear to any objective observer — I think it amounts to obstruction of justice in both the legal and lay sense of the term,” said Peter Schuck, a professor at Yale Law School. “His constant calls and entreaties to Comey seem like efforts to intimidate and interfere, another element of obstruction of justice.”
David B. Rivkin Jr., an attorney with Baker & Hostetler LLP in Washington, disagrees: “Nothing that Comey said lays out an obstruction of justice case against President Trump. All of the things that Comey mentioned — the President asking Comey for loyalty, asking him to publicly confirm that Trump wasn’t a target of any FBI investigation, and calling Michael Flynn a good man and expressing hope that he wouldn’t be prosecuted — do not amount to obstruction of justice or any other violation of law.”
Did Comey commit a crime by leaking the contents of his memo detailing his conversation with Trump?
No. It would only be a crime if the information was classified, legal experts told ABC News. Comey claimed under oath that the leaked memo contained nothing classified. But still, Comey’s disclosure to a friend who then leaked information to the New York Times was inappropriate and violated established norms, according to some experts. “That’s just not done,” said one law enforcement insider. “It’s shameful.”