According to recent reports, President Donald Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to drop an inquiry into links between his ex-national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, and Russia.
“I hope you can let this go,” President Trump reportedly told James Comey after a White House meeting in February, according to a memo written by ex-FBI Director James Comey.
The memo was written immediately after the meeting, a day after Michael Flynn resigned, according to media reports.
The White House has denied the allegation in a statement.
The statement said: “The president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.”
Jason Chafettz, an influential Republican congressman who chairs the House Oversight Committee has called for the FBI to hand over all relevant documents within a week.
He demanded all correspondence relating to communications between James Comey and President Trump be presented by May 24.
Michael Flynn was forced out in February after he misled the vice-president about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador before President Trump took office.
The latest Russian twist, first reported by the New York Times, comes a week after Donald Trump fired James Comey over his handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while at the state department.
James Comey’s dismissal sent shockwaves through Washington, with critics accusing the president of trying to thwart the FBI investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the US election and any Moscow ties to Trump associates.
The FBI director reportedly wrote a memo following a meeting with the president on February 14 that revealed Donald Trump had asked him to close an investigation into Michael Flynn’s actions.
James Comey reportedly shared the memo with top FBI associates.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” President Trump told James Comey, according to the memo.
“He is a good guy.”
James Comey did not respond to his request, according to the memo, but replied: “I agree he is a good guy.”
In response to the report, a White House official pointed out that acting FBI director Andrew McCabe had testified last week that there had been “no effort to impede our investigation to date”.
Michael Flynn’s departure in February came months after suspicions were raised among intelligence officials.
He resigned as White House national security adviser after just 23 days on the job over revelations that he had discussed lifting sanctions on Moscow with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, before Donald Trump was sworn in.
It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.
Since Michael Flynn stepped down, the Pentagon has launched an investigation into whether he failed to disclose payments from Russian and Turkish lobbyists for speeches and consulting work.
Michael Flynn’s Russian ties are under investigation by the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as part of wider inquiries into claims Moscow sought to tip the election in favor of Donald Trump.
Adam Schiff, the highest ranked Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said this intervention by President Trump, if correct, amounted to “interference or obstruction of the investigation”.
Senator John McCain reportedly said at a dinner that the Trump scandals had now reached “Watergate size”.
The key legal statute is 18 US Code Section 1512, which contains a broad definition allowing charges to be brought against someone who “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so”.
Section 1512 requires a person not only to attempt to obstruct justice but to do it with “corrupt” intent, and legal experts have told the Washington Post that is not clear in this case.