A tweet shared this week by a prominent alt-right figure misrepresents an old clip of former FBI Director James Comey, claiming it's evidence that President Donald Trump did not impede the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The tweet by Jack Posobiec, who works for the right-wing Canadian website The Rebel and previously pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, has now been shared more than 6,000 times.
The tweet, which was posted Wednesday, misrepresents what Sen. Mazie Hirono asked Comey on May 3 during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing by highlighting just a portion of the transcript — which conveniently blocks Hirono's question — and linking it to Trump.
"Comey said under oath that Trump did not ask him to halt any investigation - 5/8/17 #ComeyMemo," Posobiec tweeted, along with a screenshot of a transcript.
The testimony, however, was actually about the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's emails, and it had nothing to do with Trump.
Other dubious websites also picked up the false story after the tweet went viral.
A complete transcript shows that Comey was never asked about Trump, and that Hirono's question was about the US attorney general or "senior officials" at the Justice Department:
Sen. Mazie Hirono: I'd like you to clarify the FBI's independence from the DOJ apparatus. Can the FBI conduct an investigation independently from the Department of Justice or does the FBI have to disclose all of its investigations to the DOJ? Does it have to get the Attorney General's consent?
FBI Dir. James Comey: Well, we work with the Department of Justice, whether that's main justice of US attorney's offices on all of our investigations, and so we work with them, so in a legal sense independent of the Department of Justice. We are spiritually and culturally a pretty independent group, and that's the way you would want it. But yeah we work with the Department of Justice on all of our investigations.
Hirono: So if the attorney general or senior officials at the Department of Justice opposes a specific investigation, can they halt that FBI investigation?
Comey: In theory, yes.
Hirono: Has it happened?
Comey: Not in my experience, because it would be a big deal to tell the FBI to stop doing something without an appropriate purpose. Oftentimes they give us opinions that we don't see a case there, so you ought to stop investing resources into. I'm talking about a situation where we were told to stop something for a political reason that would be a very big deal. It has not happened in my experience.
The former FBI director said in a memo before he was unceremoniously fired last week that Trump had asked him to back off from the investigation into Flynn's ties to Russia. On Thursday, Trump denied the allegation, saying simply "no, no" when asked by a reporter if it was true.
Watch Comey's interaction with the Senate Judiciary Committee below.
Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.
Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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