Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday his country is willing to provide asylum to fired FBI director James Comey if he is prosecuted for leaking memos on his private conversations with President Donald Trump. Putin’s comments came during his annual question and answer session in Moscow.
Putin reportedly said it was “very strange” that Comey had leaked details of conversations with Trump, adding the leaks put the ex-FBI director “in a vulnerable position.” Putin also likened Comey’s actions to those of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“If there is some kind of persecution, we would be ready to offer political asylum to Mr Comey if he is persecuted in the U.S.”, Putin told a live audience. Comey, like Snowden, acted as an “activist,” Putin said.
Trump caused a stir in Washington when he abruptly fired Comey in May while the latter was leading the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Putin has denied Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
In a letter to Comey informing him that he was fired, Trump wrote, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”
Earlier this month, Comey testified under oath in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee saying he believed his firing was linked to his probe into the Russians hacking the U.S. elections. Comey also claimed Trump had suggested he drop an investigation into alleged links between Russia and Michael Flynn, the President’s former national security adviser who was forced to resign after it was revealed he misled former Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with a Russian official.
Comey also spoke about Trump asking him for his loyalty, which the president denied Friday.
“I hardly know the man. I’m not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? Think of it: I hardly know the man, it doesn’t make sense. No, I didn’t say that, and I didn’t say the other,” Trump said.
Trump said Friday he was willing to testify under oath about his interactions with Comey and accused him of being untruthful during his testimony in Capitol Hill on last Thursday.
After Comey revealed he leaked memos of his private conversations wth Trump, the president’s lawyer said a lawsuit will be filed against the former FBI director.
Here are some Twitter reactions to Putin’s comment Thursday offering Comey asylum in Russia.
Putin's way of telling Trump to bring "presidential" criminal charges against Comey. 🤡 https://t.co/pjJscDhPA2
— ❄️keith️incali🌈 (@keithincali) June 15, 2017
Strange world. Putin offers Comey hypothetical asylum at some sort of town hall with who appears to be Alex Ovechkin in the audience. https://t.co/h0STdoVxH4
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) June 15, 2017
Comey should reply to Putin "Don't be so sure you won't need asylum yourself yet"
— Kiwi_CGFX (@Kiwi_CGFX) June 15, 2017
Just joking? Russian Pres Vladimir Putin says he'll offer former FBI Dir. James Comey political asylum if he's prosecuted for leaking memos
— NBCNewsRadio (@NBCNewsRadio) June 15, 2017
— President Kalola🇺🇸 (@BROWNPOTUS) June 15, 2017
Putin is laughing at you , me and everybody and enjoying it.
Offering Comey political asylum as a joke .
— mayer azizi (@MayerAzizi) June 15, 2017
Displayed with permission from International Business Times