At a February meeting in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia, and shortly after the meeting, Comey documented the details of Trump’s request in a memo, which he later shared with senior FBI officials and close associates.
The contents of that unclassified memo were shared with the New York Times by an associate of Comey’s.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Comey, according to the memo.
The memo provides clear evidence that Trump tried to influence the investigation into links between Trump’s associates and Russia.
Comey’s meeting with Trump took place the day after Flynn resigned, and the memo was part of a paper trail that Comey created to document what he perceived as Trump’s improper efforts to influence the ongoing investigation, the Times reports. Notes such as these are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
“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 also told Comey that Flynn had done nothing wrong, and according to the memo, Comey said nothing to Trump about ending the investigation and agreed only that Flynn was a good guy.
The White House issued a statement denying the version of events in the memo.
“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 statement read. “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.”
Acting FBI Director Andrew G. McCabe testified before the Senate last week and said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
The Times notes that McCabe was referring to the broad investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, and the Flynn investigation is separate from that.
A spokesman for the FBI declined to give the Times a comment, but two people who saw Comey’s memo told the Times that Comey created similar memos about every phone call and meeting he had with Trump. It is unclear, however, whether he told the Justice Department about the conversations or his memos.
According to the Times, Comey was known to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, and according to two former confidants, he was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Trump.
The Comey memo revelation comes after Trump tweeted Friday that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
That suggestion has led Comey’s associates to wonder if there are, in fact, tapes to back up his account of what happened with Trump.
Surely there will be more to come after this.
Read more at the New York Times.