Trump asks Comey to drop Flynn probe, White House denies

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 17, 2017

Shortly after he was sacked, a furious Comey boarded a Department of Justice Gulfstream G550 at Los Angeles Airport and began barking orders at his assistants.

But the experts said intent was a critical element of an obstruction of justice charge, and the president's words could be subject to interpretation and possibly put into the context of other actions, like Comey's termination.

It's far more serious than that, a question of whether the president committed a crime in his first month in office.

"We've seen this movie before", McCain said at a dinner where he was receiving the International Republican Institute's Freedom Award, hours after it was revealed that the U.S. president in February had urged James Comey, the former FBI director, to drop an investigation into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn's communications with the Russians.

According to sources, the request was documented in a memo written by Comey that quoted Trump as saying: "I hope you can let this go".

Trump himself has not weighed in on the story to confirm or reverse the White House's statement, as he has with this week's revelation that he revealed sensitive intelligence to Russian diplomats.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen.

John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said late Tuesday that the developments had reached "Watergate size and scale".

A shift among Republicans was immediately visible. The White House disputed the account.

Trump reportedly told Comey he should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information. "I don't want to read a memo", Graham said.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they wanted to see the memo. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, told CNN this week.

On Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to nudge the administration. "I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda", McConnell told Bloomberg News. "But sadly it's not just the fake news..." When they had adjourned, they had been fresh from a Rose Garden celebration with the president to mark House passage of a health care reform measure.

News Tuesday of Trump's request of Comey immediately renewed concerns from congressional Democrats that Trump was trying to obstruct an investigation that's been examining potential coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign. He used that phrase nine times in his briefing to reporters. "It's not even a close call", said William Portanova, who served as a state and federal prosecutor for more than 12 years.

An emailed fundraising appeal by Trump's political organization and the Republican National Committee sent out after reports of the Comey memo said Trump was being victimized by an "unelected bureaucracy". Curbelo is one of a few Republicans who have urged the creation of a select committee; on Tuesday evening, he predicted the idea would gain traction. Some see the reports of the memo as bolstering calls for a special counsel to investigate the president's conduct and possible ties to Russian Federation.

"What we have is a memo of a president asking highly inappropriate questions of an Federal Bureau of Investigation director", he said.

Another alleged "bombshell" fell on Washington, D.C. Tuesday, this one in the form of a memo Comey supposedly left for himself in his Russian Federation investigation file.

Were any monumental Republican shift against Trump to transpire, the leading indicator would likely be Trump's approval rating among Republican voters.

The intensity of that support might be gradually eroding, however.

During the House's weeklong recess, Sanford found that the controversy surrounding Trump "is very much hot and bright, and of great concern with regard to the public I talk to back home", even in his conservative district.

The disclosure of the Comey memo is the latest crisis to buffet a White House reeling from revelations on Monday that the president may have revealed classified information in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

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