Trump asks Comey to drop probe on Flynn ties with Russia
- Author: Larry Hoffman May 18, 2017,
May 18, 2017, 1:54
Comey wrote some notes after a February meeting with Trump, where he stated that the president brought up counterintelligence investigation into Flynn and urged Comey to drop the probe in the wake of the national security adviser's resignation.
The White House issued a furious denial near the end of a tumultuous day. The newspaper said an unnamed associate of Comey read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.
But Mr Comey did not say anything to Mr Trump about limiting the investigation, replying, "I agree he is a good guy". Published reports also said Tuesday that Trump finds General McMaster to be "a pain".
When that ended, Trump asked everyone to leave except Comey, and he eventually turned the conversation to Flynn.
"I hope you can let this go", Trump allegedly said to Comey, describing Flynn as "a good guy". "As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety", Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
Have they even noticed that Trump has now fired the Federal Bureau of Investigation director who was investigating him, the acting Attorney General who had the goods on Michael Flynn, and the USA attorney in New York City who had jurisdiction over Trump's Manhattan-based business dealings?
News Tuesday of Trump's request of Comey immediately renewed concerns from congressional Democrats that Trump was trying to obstruct an investigation that's been examining potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
The demand came as members of Congress from both parties escalated calls on Tuesday for Comey to appear before them after the revelation of Trump's request by The New York Times.
The White House statement also referred to testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week by acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, previously Comey's top deputy, who said, "There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date".
David Gergen, a former advisor to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, says the U.S. president has potentially strayed to an "obstruction of justice" if the memo is accurate. In two tweets, Trump said the conversation with the diplomats was an acceptable way to provide facts related to airline safety and terrorism, and he declared he had "the absolute right" to share the details.
But inside the White House, there was a struggle to get any surrogates on TV because no one knew what to say or how to defend the story, one White House adviser said. But Trump himself came out flying close to the sun on Twitter, claiming it was his "absolute right" to share information with Russian Federation on humanitarian grounds and to formulate a better joint strategy against the Islamic State.
He's didn't disclose income from speeches he gave to three Russian companies, he didn't sign the White House ethics pledge, he was lobbying on behalf of Turkey during the 2016 election, and he was selected as National Security Adviser even though the transition team knew that he probably was going to register as a foreign agent.
Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan backed Chaffetz. Trump supporters are demanding that he push tax cuts through, but efforts to craft a bill, as with healthcare reform, have been hampered by the constant and distracting buzz of intrigue around the White House.
"I don't think the White House is stupid enough to create a credibility contest with Comey", Dershowtiz said.
"If it's information that was shared with the Russian ambassador, it seems to me it would be okay to be shared with United States senators", said Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican.
Senator John MCain reportedly said at a dinner that the Trump scandals had now reached "Watergate size".
If it was deemed, meanwhile, that Trump was guilty of one of the "high crimes and misdemeanours" worthy of impeachment, it would have to be supported by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which would require a significant number of Trump's party to turn against him. "At worst, he has obstructed justice", said Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi. Justice Department officials warn Comey against sending the letter, saying that doing so would be inconsistent with department policy meant to avoid the appearance of prosecutorial interference or meddling in elections. "Israel shared the information with the president, who then shared the information with Russian Federation?" He called on congressional Republicans "to get off the Trump train and name a select committee whose job it will be to determine whether Congress should move ahead to impeachment".