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.
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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”.
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.
Retired Vice-Admiral Robert Harward, President Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser, has turned down the job offer.
Robert Harward was widely tipped for the post after President Trump fired Michael Flynn on February 13.
A White House official said Robert Harward cited family and financial commitments, but media said the sticking point was he wanted to bring in his own team.
Michael Flynn had misled VP Mike Pence over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.
The latest setback emerged hours after Donald Trump robustly denied media reports of White House disarray, insisting in a news conference that his administration was running like a “fine-tuned machine”.
The White House is expected to name its new communications director on February 17, and media say the job will go to Mike Dubke, the founder of Republican media group Crossroads Media.
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Robert Harward told the Associated Press the Trump administration was “very accommodating to my needs, both professionally and personally”.
“It’s purely a personal issue,” added the 60-year-old former Navy Seal who is currently based in Abu Dhabi as an executive for US defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
Asked about reports that he had asked to bring in his own staff at the National Security Council, Robert Harward said: “I think that’s for the president to address.”
Michael Flynn, a retired army lieutenant-general, was ousted amid claims that before he was even appointed as national security adviser he had discussed sanctions with a Russian envoy.
This would have potentially breached a law banning private citizens from engaging in diplomacy.
Michael Flynn initially denied having discussed sanctions with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.
However, on February 13, President Trump asked for his resignation following revelations that Michael Flynn had misled the vice-president about his conversations with the diplomat.
Leading Republicans have called for an investigation into intelligence leaks that led to Michael Flynn’s resignation.
Top Republicans have joined calls for a wide investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s links with Russia.
Michael Flynn quit on February 13 over claims he discussed US sanctions with Russia before President Donald Trump took office.
On February 14, a White House spokesman said President Trump knew weeks ago there were problems with the Russia phone calls.
However, calls for an independent investigation have encountered a cold response from some senior Republicans.
The development came as the New York Times reported that phone records and intercepted calls show members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, as well as other Trump associates, “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election”.
However, officials spoken to by the newspaper said they had not yet seen evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia on the hacking of the DNC or to influence the election.
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As well as an FBI investigation, both the Senate and House intelligence committees are already examining Russian involvement in the election. It is not yet clear whether the latest claims will be included in their scope.
Michael Flynn stood down over allegations he discussed US sanctions with a Russian envoy in December, before Donald Trump took office.
The conversations took place about the time that then-President Barack Obama was imposing retaliatory measures on Russia following reports it attempted to sway the US election in Donald Trump’s favor.
Michael Flynn could have broken a law – known as the Logan Act – by conducting US diplomacy as a private citizen, before he was appointed as national security adviser.
The retired army lieutenant-general initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. VP Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf.
The White House admitted it had been warned about the contacts on January 26 but President Trump initially concluded Michael Flynn had not broken any law.
White House lawyers then conducted a review and questioned Michael Flynn before reaching the same conclusion as Donald Trump, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, but the trust had gone.
White House Counsellor Kellyanne Conway said on February 14: “In the end, it was misleading the vice-president that made the situation unsustainable.”
Michael Flynn was also reportedly questioned by FBI agents in his first days as national security adviser.
In an interview conducted with The Daily Caller on February 13, but published only on February 14, Michael Flynn said he “crossed no lines” in his conversation with the ambassador.
The former national security adviser said he discussed the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over alleged hacking ahead of the election, but “it wasn’t about sanctions”.
Michael Flynn said he was concerned that the apparently classified information had been leaked. He said: “In some of these cases, you’re talking about stuff that’s taken off of a classified system and given to a reporter.
“That’s a crime.”
However, in his resignation letter, Michael Flynn said “the fast pace of events” during the presidential transition meant that he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador”.
In his first public comments about the controversy, President Trump tweeted on February 14: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N Korea etc?”
US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters on February 14 he wanted to examine the leaks, and said the FBI should explain why Michale Flynn’s conversation had been recorded.
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has resigned over his contacts with Russia, the White House has announced.
He is alleged to have discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Donald Trump took office.
Michael Flynn is said to have misled officials about the conversation.
Earlier, media reported that the DoJ had warned the White House about the contacts late last month.
They said that Michael Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
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It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy, and the calls happened late last year before Michael Flynn was appointed to the administration.
A number of senior Democrats had called for Michael Flynn to be fired.
The national security adviser is appointed by the president to serve as his or her chief adviser on international affairs and defense.
In his resignation letter, Michael Flynn said he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador”.
A White House statement said Lt. Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg had been appointed as interim replacement for the post.
Michael Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and VP Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf.
However, he came under further pressure on February 13 when details of his phone call emerged in US media, as well as reports the justice department had warned the White House about him misleading senior officials and being vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
According to the Washington Post, the message was delivered by then-acting attorney general Sally Yates, who was subsequently dismissed by President Trump for opposing his controversial travel ban.
Michael Flynn, who was previously fired by Barack Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was an ardent supporter of Donald Trump during the campaign.
He became a close ally of both the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
Michael Flynn encouraged tougher policies on Iran and a softer policy on Russia, but questions were raised about his perceived closeness to Moscow.