Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD.) told National Public Radio on Friday that the President Donald Trump meeting one-on-one with fired FBI Director James Comey was “extremely troubling” and “totally inappropriate.”
His remarks came after Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep asked Cardin what conclusions he had drawn from Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
“Well, the former director Comey clearly said what the president said was not accurate, was not true,” Cardin said. “He clearly indicated that the president wanted him to stop the investigation of [former National Security Adviser Michael] Flynn.
“And he clearly felt that it was inappropriate that the president asked to meet with him alone and the conversation that they had,” Cardin said. “So much so that he decided to make contemporary notes.
“This is extremely troubling,” Cardin said.
“Is it inappropriate what the president did?” Inskeep asked.
“Yes, I think it is inappropriate,” Cardin said. “You don’t meet with a person doing an investigation of people in your campaign.
“To me, it was totally inappropriate,” Cardin said.
Cardin also said in the interview that the president was trying to influence the investigation of Flynn.
“It’s clear Mr. Comey interpreted it as the president asking him to resolve the Flynn investigation quickly,” Cardin said. “So it’s clear [Trump] was trying to influence the investigation.
“Was Comey right to leak this information,” Inskeep asked.
Cardin said it was appropriate for Comey to decide how to handle “his own personal notes” and they did not include anything classified or confidential.
“Well, we will have to judge that and I’m sure that’s one of the things that [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller will take a look at, but these are his own personal notes,” Cardin said. “These are not anything that is classified or confidential.”
“These are his own notes of conversations he had with the president,” Cardin said. “So I don’t think we’re talking about classified information but we are talking about are personal notes — the way that he handled this is a matter I’m sure Mr. Mueller will also look at.”
Inskeep admitted that Comey hadn’t confirmed the unceasing speculation by the media that Trump colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign or that Trump was even under investigation — in fact, Comey said in his testimony that he told the president three times he was not the subject of an investigation.
“Is it possible that … what we have here is a lot of disturbing conduct to cover up not really very much in the end?” Inskeep asked.
Cardin said it is clear that the Russians tried and did influence the election and that a commission like the one formed to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack that killed 3,000 people on American soil should be established, including to uncover if any Americans played a role in the Russian campaign.