A memo was released on Tuesday that reportedly reveals President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn amid controversy that Flynn could be subject to Russian blackmail for speaking with officials before the President was sworn into office.
“I hope you can let this go,” President Trump told Comey in the memo, the New York Times reported. The Times was first to report on the memo Tuesday, saying it obtained the information from an anonymous White House source. The media has reported on the memo through sources who have reportedly read it, but many news outlets have not actually seen the memo.
The President continues to face criticism for not coming forth with the truth, but rather the media having to drum it up or getting tips from anonymous, unnamed sources. Since the memo’s release, the New York Times reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee has invited Comey to testify regarding the Flynn investigation.
“The documentation of [Trump’s] request is the clearest evidence that the President has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and [FBI] investigation into links between [Trump’s] associates and Russia,” according to the Times.
Those who have read the memo said it details Comey’s conversation with the President “immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after [Flynn] resigned,” the Times reported. “It was part of a paper trail [Comey] created documenting what he perceived as the President’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An [FBI] agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.”
ABC News reported that multiple sources who have worked closely with Comey “say he is known for his contemporaneous and thorough note-taking.” This includes a source(s) at the Justice Department.
“He documents everything,” one source told ABC, which also pointed out that it it has not seen the memo.
“I think national security is put at risk by this leak and by leaks like this,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Tuesday during a news conference. “I think it’s important to investigate these sort of things and to make sure that we have trusted organizations across our government that allows for the free sharing of information and collaboration.”
The President fired Comey last week as the nation’s top crime fighter, claiming the former FBI director had “lost the confidence” of the country. However, it was widely speculated that there were other reasons for Trump’s firing of Comey, including the Flynn controversy. Trump even took to Twitter to defend his firing of Comey.
While Trump did not fire Flynn, the former top security adviser resigned back in February days after the controversy about him speaking to Russian officials before Trump was sworn into office came to light, and then reports about Flynn lying to Vice President Mike Pence about it.
Since taking office, the President has fired former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former national security adviser Mike Flynn, former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara and former chief White House usher Angella Reid.
Andrew McCabe is the current acting FBI director.