Comey memo said Trump asked him to drop Flynn investigation in February

rooz Comey memo said Trump asked him to drop Flynn investigation in February image

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump asked the FBI director, James Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Comey, according to the memo.
The documentation of Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation into links between Trump’s associates and Russia.
Late Tuesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the FBI turn over all “memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings” of discussions between Trump and Comey.
Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An FBI agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior FBI officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter. Susan Walsh, Associated Press file Then-FBI Director James Comey speaks to the Anti-Defamation League National Leadership Summit in Washington earlier this month. The White House is disputing a report that President Donald Trump asked Comey to shut down an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Trump told Comey that Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Comey did not say anything to Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that Gen. 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, including any investigation involving Gen. Flynn,” the statement said. “This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
Members of Congress from both parties escalated calls for Comey to appear before them after Tuesday’s disclosure.
Democrats were aggressive in seeking new hearings and opening an independent investigation. Republicans, on the whole, reserved judgment until they learned more or heard from Comey himself.
“We need the truth and we need it now,” U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., said in a statement. “These reports are deeply concerning. If they are true, I believe they make the President unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief. This matter is now in the hands of Congressional Republicans and history will remember how they respond.”
Chaffetz’s letter demanding records of Trump and Comey’s communications, sent to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, set a May 24 deadline for the internal documents to be delivered to the House committee.
In testimony to the Senate last week, McCabe said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
McCabe was referring to the broad investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The investigation into Flynn is separate.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment.
Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said.
Trump fired Comey last week. Trump officials have provided conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Comey’s dismissal. Trump said in a TV interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”
The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Despite the conversation between Trump and Comey, the investigation of Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial ties to Russia and Turkey. Cliff Owen, Associated Press file President Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February.
Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Trump told those present — including Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Comey.
Alone in the Oval Office, Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Comey’s associates.
Trump then turned the discussion to Flynn.
After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Comey shared it with senior FBI officials. Comey and his aides perceived Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but decided they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the FBI agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.