By Miriam Raftery
Photo by Gage Skidmore
May 17, 2017 (Washington D.C.) –President Donald Trump pressured FBI director James Comey to halt the FBI investigation into former National Security Director Michael Flynn’s Russian connections, but Comey refused, according to a memo written by Comey at the time, the New York Times reports. Comey also refused Trump’s demand to jail journalists for publishing leaked materials—shortly before the President fired Comey. The revelation has top Republican and Democratic Senators preparing to subpoena records that could, potentially, lead to impeachment.
“Obstruction of justice is what it looks like to anybody who’s looking at it,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat working with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to investigate the FBI’s role in the federal Russia investigation, Politico reports. “This is about as lay down a case…as a prosecutor could imagine,” he added.
Republican Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee who has said he won’t seek reelection, today announced on Twitter that his committee will “get the Comey memo, if it exists,” adding, “I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”
The memo could be the "modern equivalent of the Nixon tapes" according to George Stephanopolous, an ABC news anchor and former White House communictions director under President Bill Clinton, The Hill reports. The White House tapes led President Richard Nixon to resign or face impeachment on grounds that included obstruction of justice, after Nixon fired special prosecutor Arcihbald Cox. The Times report indicates Trump told Comey, “I hope you can let this go,” according to Comey’s two-page detailed memo. Trump has denied that this occurred.
Republican Richard Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, however, called for the New York Times to publish the document. The Times story relied on high-level sources who indicated they had seen the memo or had it read to them.
Other major media outlets are reporting that they have independently confirmed the content of the memo.
Two weeks before the meeting at which Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, Trump had Comey to a private White Hosue dinner in which he twice asked Comey to pledge loyalty to Trump and asked he was under investigation, a Comey associate has said, adding that Comey refused to do so.
Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Director after intelligence documents showed he discussed easing sanctions with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December, but lied about having any meeting with Russian officials during his Senate Confirmation hearing.
Trump previously fired acting attorney general Sally Yates, after she warned the White House counsel that Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians for lying in his confirmation hearing about having met with a prominent Russian official and failing to register as a foreign agent for Turkey.
A grand jury in Virginia has issued subpoenas related to the Flynn Russia ties in what could become a separate criminal investigation.
Comey has a history of writing memos after meetings on controversial matters when ethical or legal matters are at stake, the Washington Post reports.
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