Saturday 22 July 2017

Republicans starting to turn as committee asks to see Comey documents

Senator John McCain likened the situation to ‘Watergate'. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
Senator John McCain likened the situation to ‘Watergate'. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Sean Sullivan

Congressional Republicans are increasing pressure on the Trump administration to produce documents related to the latest string of controversies involving President Donald Trump, amid flagging confidence in the White House and a growing sense that scandal is overtaking the presidency.

A key House committee asked the FBI for records of communications between Donald Trump and the agency's former director James Comey on Tuesday night following reports that the president sought to shut down a federal investigation into former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested the documents be delivered by May 24 and said he would subpoena the information if necessary.

In an interview, Mr Chaffetz said he wasn't prejudging the case. "I simply want to see the documentation," he told the 'Washington Post'. "We will let the evidence take us where it does."

His request came in response to media reports disclosing the existence of a memo written by Mr Comey, whom Mr Trump fired last week, alleging that Mr Trump asked him to end the Flynn investigation during a meeting at the White House in February.

Republican lawmakers began yesterday with rising concerns about the latest revelations that a memo by Mr Comey indicates that Mr Trump pressured him and that Mr Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office last month.

Watergate

Republican Senator John McCain said at an International Republican Institute dinner on Tuesday night that controversies in the Trump administration had grown to "Watergate size and scale", according to reports.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey wants a Democrat to be nominated to lead the FBI because "changes are needed at the White House," a spokesman said, according to the 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette'.

And Republican Senator Ben Sasse said yesterday that "there's a lot here that's really scary."

In a letter to FBI acting director Andrew McCabe, Mr Chaffetz cited a report from the 'New York Times' stating that Mr Comey's memo "describes a conversation in which the president referenced the FBI investigation . . . and said to Comey, 'I hope you can let this go.' " He asked the FBI to provide "all memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings" related to Mr Comey's communication with Mr Trump.

The pressure on congressional Republicans to step up their oversight of the Trump administration intensified this week when the 'Washington Post' on Monday reported that the president shared classified information related to the Isil with Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week.

The White House on Tuesday sought to tamp down the controversy with national security adviser HR McMaster telling reporters that what the president shared with the Russian officials "was wholly appropriate to that conversation and is consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leaders with whom he's engaged."

Irish Independent

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