The Latest: Democrat wary of lawmakers asserting Trump obstructed justice

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on developments involving fired FBI Director James Comey (all times local):

6:45 a.m.

A Senate Democrat is cautioning members of Congress against asserting too hastily that President Donald Trump has engaged in acts that could constitute obstruction of justice in the investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware says, “I think we have to be careful about making legal conclusions” and argues that lawmakers should not be “getting in the way” of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

But Coons also tells MSNBC in an interview, hours before fired FBI Director James Comey’s Capitol Hill appearance, that he believes Trump’s words and deeds go “right up to the line” of legality. The senator adds that statements about the Russia probe attributed to Trump by Comey raise the question of whether the president’s actions “meet the legal standard for obstruction of justice.”

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6:05 a.m.

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee says former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on President Donald Trump’s conduct “is certainly evidence of interference or obstruction.”

Comey is testifying Thursday that Trump urged him to back off from his investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russians. Comey’s written statement released ahead of his testimony said Trump had described the Russia investigation as a “cloud” that was interfering with his job.

Comey is testifying that he gave Trump no such assurance. Trump fired him last month. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, made his assessment Wednesday in an interview with The Washington Post.

Schiff added that even if Trump’s actions met the legal test for obstruction, in practical terms it was less likely that the Republican-controlled Congress would move to remove him.

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3:45 a.m.

In a hugely anticipated hearing, fired FBI director James Comey will recount a series of conversations with President Donald Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.

The testimony, Comey’s first public statements since his May 9 dismissal, is likely to bring hours of uncomfortable attention to an administration shadowed for months by an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

His account of demands for loyalty from the president, and of requests to end an investigation into an embattled adviser, are likely to sharpen allegations that Trump improperly sought to influence the FBI-led probe.

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