(WASHINGTON) — Recently fired FBI Director James Comey was personally asked by President Trump to drop the bureau’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to a memo Comey wrote of his meeting with the president.
The report of the memo, whose details were first described by The New York Times on Tuesday, was later confirmed to ABC by sources close to the former director.
In the memo, which Comey shared with top FBI associates, the former director wrote that Trump said, “I hope you can let this go,” in relation to the inquiry into Flynn’s actions.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” said Trump to Comey, according to the source who read the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Multiple sources who have worked closely with Comey, including within the Justice Department, say the former director is known for his contemporaneous and thorough notetaking.
“He documents everything,” one source said.
ABC News has not seen the memo.
Trump’s alleged request to Comey about the Flynn investigation came the day after Flynn was forced to resign after misleading the administration about his contact with Russian officials. The FBI, which is investigating Russian interference into last year’s presidential election, declined to comment on the story.
The newest allegations, which the White House strenuously denied, came as the Trump administration was still reeling from a Washington Post report on Monday that the president had shared classified information with Russian officials during a meeting at the White House last week.
Responding to the newest Comey memo reports, the White House on Tuesday said that “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 president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations,” the White House statement added. “This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
A White House official further emphasized that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe gave testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week in which he said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
The Comey memo revelation was met with alarm on Capitol Hill Tuesday night, not only among Democrats but with several Republicans as well.
“If these reports are true, the President’s brazen attempt to shut down the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn is an assault on the rule of law that is fundamental to our democracy,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power. At worst, he has obstructed justice.”
“The country is being tested in unprecedented ways. I say to all my colleagues in the Senate, history is watching,” tweeted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“The memo is powerful evidence of obstruction of justice and certainly merits immediate and prompt investigation by an independent special prosecutor,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
The reactions on the Republican side, while more muted, nonetheless expressed serious concern.
“Congress needs to see the Comey memo,” tweeted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said, “If Mr. Comey was alleging the president did something inappropriate, it’s an open invitation to come to the Judiciary Committee and tell us about it. I don’t want to read a memo. I want to hear it from him.”
A spokesperson for Republican Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee which is leading an investigation into possible Trump administration connections to Russian during the 2016 election, said, “The Committee relies on facts to guide the investigation.”
The statement added, “Sen. Burr will follow relevant leads, but the Committee has not seen what the New York Times reported today. It certainly raises questions and he will follow up on acquiring those facts from credible sources.”
On Tuesday evening, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to McCabe requesting that the FBI provide “all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President” by May 24. Earlier in the night, Chaffetz tweeted that he has his “subpoena pen ready.”
Responding to the Chaffetz letter, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong said: “We need to have all the facts, and it is appropriate for the House Oversight Committee to request this memo.”
All 33 Democrats on the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees penned additional letters to the chairmen of both panels demanding an investigation into the actions of Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and top White House aides — and whether they “engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to obstruct the criminal, counter-intelligence, and oversight investigations” into the Trump campaign at the Justice Department and on Capitol Hill.
They also requested an immediate public hearing with Comey and copies of all of Comey’s memos and records relating to Trump.
Trump fired Comey, not yet four years into his 10-year term, last week and admitted later he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he made the decision. The White House originally pegged the president’s decision on the recommendation of Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but Trump himself pushed back, saying it was his decision alone.
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