Online reports indicate that President Trump may have pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to pull the plug on the feds’ probe into ex-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn during an Oval Office sit-down in February.
Trump had fired the FBI chief last week after he had launched an investigation into Mike Flynn’s possible ties to Russian officials, New York Post reports.
Comey wrote the memo immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Flynn resigned under pressure for lying to Vice President Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, the paper reported, citing two sources who read the memo.
“I hope you can see your way clear to let this go, to let Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey, according to the memo, adding that Flynn had done nothing wrong.
Comey wrote that he did not directly reply to the president’s request that he drop the probe, and only answered, “I agree he is a good guy.”
The White House denied the account, but some lawmakers said it would amount to obstruction of justice if confirmed and that it could lead to impeachment proceedings, a stunning development in an administration barely 4 months old.
In response, the White House has denied that version of events.
“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 in a statement.
“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.”
A White House aide also pointed out that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told lawmakers last week that no one had tried to meddle in the investigation.
News of the memo drew a strong reaction from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who tweeted that his panel is “going to get the Comey memo if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”
Representative Elijah Cummings, a ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, called for Democrats and Republicans to join forces to investigate the latest bombshell to fall on the administration.
“You cannot let it go on and on and on,” said Cummings. “It is just a sad moment in our history.”
Senator Angus King, an Intelligence Committee member, said there are now two incidents that require investigation: Trump’s conversations with the Russian officials in the Oval Office and the allegation that he asked Comey to back off the Flynn investigation.
“If there are tapes [in the White House], we need to have them. This is very serious,” King told CNN. “Obstruction of justice is a very, very serious matter.”
The senator added that impeachment could be on the table if Trump is found to have urged Comey to end an investigation into his own administration.
Representative Adam Schiff of the district of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, urged Comey to testify publicly.
“Enough is enough,” Schiff said. “Congress really needs to get to the bottom of this.”