Thursday 23 November 2017

President 'asked former FBI director Comey to shut down Flynn probe'

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

Mark Hosenball

President Donald Trump asked then-FBI director James Comey to shut down an investigation into ties between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia, an associate of Mr Comey, who has seen a memo on the subject, said yesterday.

The associate told Reuters that the details of the document as first reported by 'The New York Times' were accurate.

"I hope you can let this go," Mr Trump told Mr Comey, according to the language of the memo, which the source confirmed.

The White House denied the report in a statement to reporters, saying it was "not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr Comey".

The memo was written by Mr Comey immediately after his meeting in the White House Oval Office with Mr Trump one day after Mr Flynn resigned over his contacts with Russians.

Mr Flynn's resignation came hours after it was reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks earlier that Mr Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail for contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak before Trump took power on January 20.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment on the details of the memo.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that Mr Trump should choose an "apolitical" FBI director, while adding he'd like to see "less drama" from the White House.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, the Kentucky Republican said he recommended that Mr Trump choose former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland to replace Mr Comey.

Last year, Mr McConnell refused to allow a Senate confirmation hearing for Mr Garland, who was nominated by President Barack Obama.

"I think the most important thing is for the president to pick somebody who's apolitical, who clearly has a deep law enforcement background," Mr McConnell said. Someone like Mr Garland, a judge and former federal prosecutor, would "create a kind of wow factor that the president fully understands the role of the FBI director".

"Historically, it's been a solid law enforcement professional without a background in elective office," Mr McConnell said.

"That's the kind of person who ought to be in the job and I think it would also make an important statement about the president himself."

Mr McConnell, in saying he'd like to see less drama from the White House, said, "I think it would be helpful if the president spent more time on things we're trying to accomplish and less time on other things."

Irish Independent

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