Just like yesterday, it was just a matter of minutes before CNN corroborated the New York Times’ story.
Source confirms to CNN’s @PamelaBrownCNN Comey wrote in memo that President Trump asked him to end Flynn investigation
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) May 16, 2017
In what is seemingly becoming a daily event, the New York Times has just dropped yet another anonymously sourced bombshell on the White House. The latest provocative headline implies that President Trump directly asked former FBI Director James Comey to shut down an ongoing investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting back in February shortly after Flynn was fired by the White House.
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
“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.”
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
This latest story allegedly comes from a memo that Comey wrote shortly after the meeting and is just part of a larger paper trail he created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. As the New York Times notes, an FBI agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
Oddly, this memo seems to directly contradict statements that Andrew McCabe recently made under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the following exchange with Marco Rubio, McCabe said: “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
Rubio: “Has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way impeded, interrupted, stopped, or negatively impacted any of the work, any of the investigations or any ongoing projects at the Federal Bureau of Investigation?”
McCabe: “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
“You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing,” McCabe says on if Comey’s firing disrupted ongoing investigations pic.twitter.com/PMivNMlmkd
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 11, 2017
Of course, if there is an unclassified paper trail created by Comey then we suspect hundreds of FOIA requests will be filed by the end of the day.
According the NYT, Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior FBI officials and close associates. The New York Times admitted it had not viewed a copy of the memo but portions of the letter were apparently read to a reporter covering the story —showing yet again that the New York Times’ burden of proof is simply “if the government says it, it must be true.”
According to details in the memo, Comey had been invited to the Oval Office with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Trump asked all present — including Vice President Pence and Attorney General Sessions — to leave the room except for Comey. It was at that time that Trump condemned the continued leaks to the media before turning the conversation to Flynn’s fate.
Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.
It seems that Comey just outed himself as one of the leakers the White House was looking for.
I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017
Meanwhile, in a statement, the White House denied the version of events as writing in the memo.
“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 statement 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.”
If Trump does have Oval Office recordings, as he suggested in the tweet below, now might be a good time to introduce them into the public record as it looks as though Comey just called his bluff.
James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2017