After Comey Testimony, Leahy Says Russian Involvement Is 'More Serious Than Watergate'

Jun 8, 2017

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation say they're troubled by the testimony of former F.B.I. director James Comey concerning Russian efforts to influence the outcome of last year's presidential campaign.

They say it's now up to Special Counsel Robert Mueller to determine if President Trump is guilty of an obstruction of justice in this case.

Sen. Patrick Leahy was elected to the U.S. Senate in November of 1974, in the aftermath of the Watergate crisis. Leahy says Comey's testimony shows that the the case of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election is more important than the issues surrounding Watergate.

"If we are in a position where a country like Russia thinks that they have an ability to manipulate our political system, that's far, far more serious than Watergate," said Leahy.    

Related: Comey Accuses White House Of 'Lies, Plain And Simple' About His Firing

Leahy says it's up to Special Counsel Mueller to determine if President Trump was directly involved with Russian officials in an effort to influence the outcome of the election.

"This is the most blatant effort we've ever seen from a president to try to influence an investigation,” said Leahy.

"If we are in a position where a country like Russia thinks that they have an ability to manipulate our political system, that's far, far more serious than Watergate." — Sen. Patrick Leahy

Rep. Peter Welch says he's "deeply disturbed" by two aspects of this case.

“[There is] no question that the president of the United States, our chief law enforcement officer, told the F.B.I. director that he'd like him to lose the case and let it go,” said Welch. “It's also disturbing to me that the president sought what was essentially a personal loyalty pledge from the F.B.I. Director."   

Welch says he's confident that Special Counsel Mueller will uncover the key facts in this case.

"Whether it is in the category of impeachable or obstruction of justice, we're going to have to follow those facts," said Welch.   

In a written statement, Sen. Bernie Sanders said, "What we learned today was deeply troubling and makes me more concerned than ever about President Trump's attempts to derail an investigation of Russian meddling in our democracy."