According to a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey, President Trump tried to convince the then-Bureau chief to end a federal investigation of ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s associations with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign and White House transition period.
According to media sources with knowledge of the document, Comey quoted Trump saying at a Feb. 14 White House meeting, the day after Flynn was fired, that he hoped the FBI “can let this go,” referring to the probe.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Comey wrote Trump said. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
CNN reported that Comey shared the contents of the memo with senior FBI officials to alert them of the president’s unsavory request. According to a New York Times account of the meeting, President Trump started his private conversation with Comey by complaining about White House leaks and suggesting the FBI arrest journalists that publish classified material.
On Tuesday evening, House oversight committee chairman, Jason Chaffetz, sent a formal letter to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe that requested relevant evidence be turned over, including “all memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” of Trump and Comey’s communications. Prior to the request, Chaffetz tweeted that he is willing to use congressional subpoena power to obtain the evidence in question.
Since Chaffetz’s request for materials, two Senate committees have also asked for Comey’s memos and both the House oversight committee and Senate intelligence committee have invited the former director to testify about the incident.
“This stunning, breathtaking revelation that the president is accused of reaching out directly to the head of the FBI to stop an investigation on General Flynn under these circumstances raises serious questions of obstruction of justice,” said Senate Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
While congressional Republicans seem to agree the events surrounding Comey’s February memo need to be investigated, Democrats have accused GOP leadership of dragging their feet.
House oversight committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), for example, said at a press conference Wednesday that his Republican colleagues have “zero, zero, zero appetite for any investigation of President Trump.”
The White House, meanwhile, has refuted Comey’s alleged account of his February meeting with Trump, stating that while “the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation.”
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected as to the timing of Rep. Cummings’ comments.
[Reuters] [CNN] [New York Times] [The Hill] [NBC News] [AP] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via New York Daily News]