Donald Trump 'asked James Comey to shut down Michael Flynn investigation'

'He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,' the President is reported to have said

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 16 May 2017 22:26 BST
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee calls on Comey to publicly testify

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Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during an Oval Office visit in February, the New York Times has reported.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," the President said to Mr Comey during that meeting, according to the memo. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

The existence of the memo, which was reportedly written by Mr Comey himself, is the latest piece of evidence to suggest that Mr Trump had attempted to squash investigations into his campaign's associates and their interactions with the Russian government during the 2016 election. Mr Comey wrote the memo detailing the conversation immediately after the meeting, which took place just one day before Mr Flynn resigned from his post, sources told the New York Times.

Mr Comey, according to his account of the interaction with the President, did not say anything about stopping the investigation into Mr Flynn and his Russian ties. He instead agreed that Mr Flynn "is a good guy."

The White House, in a statement, denied that the memo's description of the meeting was accurate.

"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, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the White House said.

“The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Mr Flynn was forced to step down from his White House post in February after it was learned that he had misrepresented to Vice President Mike Pence conversations he had with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period.

That resignation, however, came nearly three weeks after former acting attorney general Sally Yates warned the Trump administration that Mr Flynn might be compromised by Russians. Ms Yates was later fired from her post.

It was later found that Mr Flynn had neglected to report income coming from Russian and other foreign sources when he applied for security clearances in the White House.

The memo seems to contradict statements made just last week to the Senate by acting FBI director Andrew G McCabe. Mr McCabe told senators then that "there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date."

Mr Comey was fired suddenly from his post as the FBI director last week, a move that drew bipartisan criticism and concern that the President made the decision in order to stop or impede investigations into his campaign's connection to the Russian government.

The White House initially said that Mr Trump made his decision based up on the counsel of the Justice Department but the President later said on national television that he had considered the Russia investigation when deciding if he wanted to fire Mr Comey and that he would have fired him with or without the advice of the Justice Department to do so.

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The former FBI director reportedly made similar memos - some of which are classified – after every single phone call and meeting he had with the President. Mr Comey shared the memos with close associates and senior FBI officials.

The memos bring back into light a Twitter posting by Mr Trump, who tweeted last week that Mr Comey "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

It is unclear if tapes like those exist and the White House has refused to confirm or deny their existence since.

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