President Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down an investigation of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to notes that Comey took of their February Oval Office meeting, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The White House issued a statement to rebut the Times piece, saying that “This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the President and Mr. Comey.”
But the Times reported that Comey, who Trump fired last week as FBI director, took memos of his conversations with the president. Although the Times did not obtain Comey’s notes, they were read them by their sources.
The Times reported that Comey quoted Trump as telling him at the meeting, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
The Feb. 14 meeting took place one day after Flynn resigned as national security adviser. He was forced out after The Washington Post reported that he gave false information to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in late December.
The Times story is the latest bombshell report to have gripped Washington and the news media. On Monday, the Post reported that Trump gave classified information in a meeting the two Russian officials — Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — last week.
“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 its statement, sent out to reporters on background. “The President has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations.”
The Times reported that at the meeting, Trump railed against leaks, and called for Comey to consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.
The revelation of the existence of Comey’s meeting memos is a new wrinkle in the aftermath of his firing.
“The country is being tested in unprecedented ways,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor of the Senate.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, tweeted that the committee “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.”
Update: Chaffetz wrote a letter to FBI Director Andrew McCabe, asking for any and all communications between Trump and Comey, as well as other documents.