Lankford: Trump took "light touch" with Comey, but was still "inappropriate"

Last Updated Jun 11, 2017 12:58 PM EDT

Senate Intelligence Committee member James Lankford called President Trump's conversation with fired FBI Director James Comey about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn "very inappropriate," but said that the president took a "light touch" approach that doesn't reach obstruction of justice.

"I would say it's very inappropriate," said Sen. Lankford, R-Oklahoma, in an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation." "As Jim Comey said it's awkward, to be able to have the president of the United States sitting down with someone in the FBI, the leadership of the FBI, to be able to have direct questions and for the issue to come up about the Michael Flynn investigation. It's inappropriate."

"But the way that it was handled, with no follow up, with no other press, with no other return to that topic, it looks like what I called a pretty light touch," Lankford continued. "If this is trying to interfere in a process of any investigation, it doesn't seem like it was number one, very effective, and number two, came up more than once in a conversation. So this looks more like an inappropriate conversation than obstruction."

Lankford, speaking just days after Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said it was "inappropriate" for Comey to hand over memos documenting his conversations with the president to a friend, who in turn disclosed the contents of those memos to The New York Times. Comey described on Thursday how the content of the memos became known to the public. Comey said he disclosed the memos with the hope that a special prosecutor would be appointed to oversee the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Lankford also said the committee's work in looking into whether the president tried to influence the investigation is "far from" complete.

"This (Comey's testimony) is one interview of about 36 that we've already done," he said. "We're not complete yet. We've gone through thousands of pages of documents. If in any way we left the impression this was the culmination of our process, that would be incorrect. We're trying to get all the facts out both on Russia's trying to interfere in our election. If any American tried to be able to reach back to them to be able to assist Russia in interfering in our election and how classified documents got into the public sphere. So we're still in the middle of that."

When asked whether "being in the middle of that" also includes looking into Mr. Trump and what he may or may not have done with respect to the ongoing investigation, Lankford said, "Sure."

"That's just part of the process," he said. "Obviously if there was any American including the president who was trying to interfere in the election or obstruct justice, that would be important to know."

Lankford said the Senate Intelligence Committee is still working out the details for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify to testify before the committee. Sessions announced in a letter Saturday that he has agreed to testify before the committee Tuesday. It's likely that committee session will be open, not closed, but that isn't certain yet, Lankford said.