Sunday 21 January 2018

James Comey 'to testify that Trump pushed him to end FBI Russia investigation'

Former FBI director James Comey, who was sacked by Trump. Photo: Reuters
Former FBI director James Comey, who was sacked by Trump. Photo: Reuters

Alexandra Wilts

Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly plans to publicly testify before a Senate committee to confirm reports that US President Donald Trump asked him to drop the bureau's investigation into a top Trump aide's alleged ties to Russia.

According to CNN, Mr Comey "appears eager" to discuss his interactions with the President before his firing. There is the possibility that Mr Trump obstructed justice by asking Mr Comey to drop the FBI's inquiry into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Mr Trump dismissed Mr Comey in early May – a move criticised by Democrats and Republicans alike. Mr Comey was also heading an investigation into whether Trump campaign advisers colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election, which is separate from the Flynn probe.

The President said Mr Comey informed him three times that he personally was not under investigation. However, the New York Times reported that during one of their interactions, the President asked Mr Comey to end its investigation into Mr Flynn, according to a memo reportedly written by Mr Comey.

Mr Flynn resigned in February after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US.

The White House said the memo is not an accurate portrayal of the conversation between Mr Comey and the President.

Mr Comey has apparently spoken privately with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to work out the parameters for his testimony to ensure there are no legal entanglements as a result of his public account, CNN said.

Mr Mueller is now overseeing the Russia investigation for the administration. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives also have committees conducting their own probes into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile, the House intelligence committee has said it is issuing subpoenas for Mr Trump's former national security adviser and his personal lawyer, as well as their businesses, as part of its investigation into Russian activities during last year's election.

In addition to those four subpoenas, the committee has issued three others — to the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA — for information about requests that government officials made to “unmask” the identities of U.S. individuals named in classified intelligence reports, according to a congressional aide.

At a Wednesday briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said inquiries about the Russia investigation must be directed to Trump's longtime personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz. It marked the first time the White House had officially acknowledged that outside counsel had been retained.

Independent News Service

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