Sen. Al Franken hammered the FBI Director that revealing Trump's tax returns could hold potential evidence of Russia's interference in our election.
On many occasions the FBI Director refused to answer Franken's questions by saying, " I don't know."
Franken laid out the Russian playbook of using financial resources in whatever fashion and then exploiting them,"In other words, Russia has a strategy of creating the conditions that give rise to corruption and then exploiting that corruption to its own benefit."
He continued, "Putin has had many positive experiences working with political leaders whose business interests made them more disposed to deal with Russia. That seems to jive with your understanding of what Russia has done."
Comey replied, "Correct."
Comey admitted that Russia did prefer Trump over Clinton because "Putin hated and wanted to harm in any possible way" and that he thought he could make deals with Trump.
Sen. Franken used the IC report and brought up the possibility that Trump had "already been ensnared in their web of patronage" and asked him, "Is it possible that in the Russians' view, trump's business interests would make him more amenable to cooperating with them, quote, more disposed to deal with Russia as the IC report says?"
Comey said he didn't want to speculate "...'is it possible' questions are hard for me to answer."
However, during Comey's highly unusual Clinton press conference in the summer of 2016, Comey did speculate on Hillary and said, "Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal email account."
But of course Comey can't speculate about Trump.
Franken asked, “In order for us to know for certain whether President Trump would be vulnerable to that type of exploitation, we would have to understand his financial situation. We’d have to know whether he has money tied up in Russia obligations to Russian entities, do you agree?”
Comey said, "That you would need to understand that to evaluate that question? I don't know."
Franken reminded Comey that Trump's son admitted Russians had great holdings within the Trump organization.
"I want to know is why they favored president Trump, and it seems to to answer that question, any investigation into whether the Trump campaign or Trump operation colluded with Russian operatives would require a full appreciation of the president's financial dealings. Director Comey, would president Trump's tax returns be material to such an investigation?
Comey replied, "That's not something, senator, I'm going to answer."
Franken: "Does the investigation have access to president Trump's tax returns?
Comey: "I have to give you the same answer. again"
Franken listed all the Russian connections with Trump's people and said, "from an investigative standpoint, is the sheer number of connections unusual or significant? What about each individual's proximity to the president? Is it unusual for roles to have so many unexpected and often undisclosed ties to a foreign power?"
Comey: "I have to give you the same answer. That's not something I can comment on."
Of course Trump's tax returns and his personal financial ties are important to any investigation since money is THE motivating factor.
And Trump' refusal to release them only pours more fuel on the fire regarding his involvement with the Kremlin.
If only Comey was as discreet when it came to his Clinton email investigation.