A memo then-FBI Director James Comey penned in February says President Donald Trump asked him to shut down an investigation into ties between Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Mr. Comey, the Times report said, citing two FBI sources.
Comey reportedly wrote the memo detailing his conversation with Trump one day after Flynn’s resignation. Comey allegedly began documenting his communications with the president when he believed Trump was trying to gain improper influence over the direction of investigations into ties between Trump’s associates and Russia.
The memo is the most obvious evidence yet that the president tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigations — and one MSNBC journalist and former Justice Department public affairs officer predicted others could exist.
“One thing I learned at DOJ about Comey: he leaves a protective paper trail whenever he deems something inappropriate happened. Stay tuned,” Miller tweeted May 11.
One thing I learned at DOJ about Comey: he leaves a protective paper trail whenever he deems something inappropriate happened. Stay tuned. https://t.co/sENlYyhL5B— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 12, 2017
But the White House is denying the Comey memo version of events. “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 statement to the Times 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.”
According to the memo, Trump told Comey that Flynn had done nothing wrong.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
The New York Times reported FBI agents' notes are widely held up as credible evidence in court.
Trump abruptly fired Comey last week, admitting in a televised interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”
Comey’s firing drew criticisms from Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump is only the second president ever to fire an FBI director in the department’s 82-year history.
Reuters contributed to this report.