WASHINGTON — President Trump allegedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to “let go” of the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and his Russia ties, a meeting that Comey chronicled in a two-page memo, the New York Times reported today.
The story said the Oval Office meeting took place in February on the day after Flynn resigned. The existence of the memo, written by Comey “immediately” after the meeting, was shared “with senior FBI officials and close associates,” according to the report.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump allegedly told Comey. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
The memo alleged that Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been in the meeting, which was called to discuss national security threats, but were among those asked to leave by Trump before he made his request of Comey, the NYT added.
The White House replied in a statement not attributed to any spokesperson: “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 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,” the White House added.
The Washington Post followed with their own story corroborating the NYT report, adding Comey “kept detailed notes of his multiple conversations with Trump” and details from those notes “were shared with a very small circle of people at the FBI and Justice Department.”
CNN then reported that a source read the memo to their reporter.
Former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller tweeted five days ago, “One thing I learned at DOJ about Comey: he leaves a protective paper trail whenever he deems something inappropriate happened. Stay tuned.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told CNN he believes the Comey memo will be released to Congress.
“Now he’s stepped over the line,” Cummings said of the president. “Clearly we’ve got a smoking gun with a lot of dark smoke…. I think it’s a very sad day for our country.”
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called for Comey to come back to Capitol Hill and testify in open session.
On the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had spoken earlier on reports that Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, declared that “on a day when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, they have.”
“Concerns about our national security, the rule of law, the independence of our nation’s highest law enforcement agencies are mounting. The country is being tested in unprecedented ways,” Schumer said. “I say to all of my colleagues in the Senate: history is watching.”
GOP leaders were reportedly digesting the story before commenting. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters he needed to study the report, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told an NBC reporter he passed in the hall that he was reading a paper on Afghanistan.
UPDATE 9:45 p.m.: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent a letter to Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe asking that all Comey memos or recordings related to his meetings with Trump be turned over to the committee by May 24.
The committee “is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists,” Chaffetz tweeted. “I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”