The most important moment from the Comey hearing today occurred when Sen. James Risch (R-ID) grilled former FBI director James Comey about his one on one meeting with Trump. This interaction between the two men proves that president Trump did indeed attempt to obstruct justice by asking Comey to back of his investigation into Michael Flynn (via Vox):
Here's the transcript of the interaction:
Sen. James Risch: 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 a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Now, those are his exact words, is that correct?
James Comey: Correct.
Sen. James Risch: You wrote them here and put them in quotes.
James Comey: Correct.
Sen. James Risch: Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?
James Comey: Not in his words, no.
Sen. James Risch: He did not order you to let it go?
James Comey: Again, those words are not an order.
Sen. James 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?
James Comey: I don't know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction.
Sen. James Risch: Right.
James 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.
Risch is playing lawyer here and attempting to obfuscate the obvious -- Trump was indeed asking Comey to stop investigating Flynn. We don't just know this because Comey took it that way, but because of the fact that Trump fired him afterwards. Trump then told Russian officials in the Oval Office that the pressure of the investigation into his campaign's ties with Russia had been "taken off" because he had fired Comey. To recap:
1. James Comey believed Trump unethically instructed him to end his investigation of Michael Flynn, so much so that he took detailed notes of the meeting.
3. Trump told Russian officials he fired Comey to take the pressure of the Russia investigation off of him.
What more evidence do we need of obstruction of justice? Can we now say it is officially time to impeach?