Former FBI Director James Comey will testify in a public appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week that President Donald Trump pressured him to end the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple reports.
Comey has been cleared to testify by the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert Mueller, according to NBC News. After Trump fired Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to lead the criminal investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow during the 2016 election.
A source close to Comey told CNN on Wednesday that he will “confirm bombshell accusations” that Trump “pressured him to end his investigation into a top Trump aide’s ties to Russia.”
The FBI is investigating Flynn’s contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as part of its probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The bureau interviewed Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak in January as part of that probe.
Trump reportedly asked Comey to “let” the Flynn investigation “go” — after asking Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to leave the room — during an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Comey wrote documenting the meeting. The New York Times was the first to disclose the existence of the memo.
Their meeting came weeks after Trump reportedly asked Comey for his loyalty, twice, during a dinner on January 27.
The Wall Street Journal confirmed CNN’s reporting on Wednesday, citing a source close to Comey as saying he will confirm the Times report.
Comey apparently wrote the memo immediately after meeting with Trump on February 14, one day after Flynn was asked to resign for misleading the vice president about his contacts with Kislyak. 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,” according to the Times.
If it’s found to be true that Trump asked Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation into Flynn, “that would be very damaging,” Keith E. Whittington, an expert on presidential impeachment and a politics professor at Princeton University, told Business Insider earlier this month.
Comey’s memo fills in a number of details around Trump’s ties to Russia and what the president’s motives were in firing Comey, Whittington said.
Trump said days after firing Comey that he had been thinking about “this Russia thing” when he fired him. He called Comey a “showboat” and a “grandstander” in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, and tweeted a day later that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
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