“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to a memo reported about by the Times. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” New York Times is reporting that President Donald Trump asked fired FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.
Last week, Trump fired Comey over what he said was the handling of Clinton’s emails. Comey had been investigating whether or not Trump’s campaign members worked with Russia to affect the 2016 presidential election.
The Times said two unnamed people read the memo written by Comey after he had a conservation with Trump after an Oval Office meeting February 14. That meeting, the paper said, took place the day after Flynn resigned.
“The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia,” The Times said.
The Times reported that the unclassified memo has not been viewed by the paper but that one of Comey’s associates “read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.”
Comey, appointed director in 2013 by former President Barack Obama, replied to Trump’s “good guy” remark by saying, “I agree he is a good guy,” according to the paper.
During the meeting in Feburary, Comey and Trump were initially in the Oval Office with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. After that meeting, the Times reported that Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Comey. Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were also asked to leave the room.
The Times reported that, according a Comey associate, Trump then spoke to Comey and said Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.
The conversation about Flynn then followed. The Wall Street Journal, which confirmed The New York Times’ report, said that Comey would not discuss an details of the Flynn investigation with Trump, according to the memo.
The Washington Post also confirmed the Times’ report, saying that Comey “kept detailed notes of his multiple conversations with Trump,” according to people close to the matter.
Those same people told The Washington Post that the details of those notes were shared with a small group of people at the FBI and Justice Department.
The White House has issued a statement:
“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 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.”