President Trump asked James Comey to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the former FBI director wrote in a memo in February.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey during an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 14, the day after Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls with Russia’s ambassador.
The New York Times broke the story of the Comey memo, which is unclassified. An associate of Comey’s read portions of the memo to the newspaper. Comey is said to have documented his other interactions with Trump, including a Jan. 27 White House dinner.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
An associate of Comey’s who has seen the memo confirmed the details of the document to The Daily Caller. The associate says that Comey took detailed notes of his interactions with Trump. Comey and Trump were alone during the conversation, the Comey associate says.
Comey responded by agreeing with one portion of Trump’s remarks, according to the memo.
“I agree he is a good guy,” Comey says he told Trump.
Trump’s request to ease up on Flynn provides new context to the Republican’s decision to fire Comey last Tuesday. The White House has denied that Trump fired the Obama appointee over the FBI’s ongoing investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Flynn is reportedly a subject of that investigation. Last week, CNN reported that the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Eastern District of Virginia issued grand jury subpoenas for associates of Flynn. The subpoenas reportedly seek records of Flynn’s dealings with the Russian and Turkish governments.
It is not clear whether Flynn is also the focus of the investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Flynn could also be under investigation for making misleading statements to the FBI during a Jan. 24 interview about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.
The White House responded with a statement to The Times, saying that Comey’s recollection of the Oval Office meeting is inaccurate.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the White House said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
The White House could potentially provide proof to back up its denial of Comey’s claims. But that would depend on whether Trump’s comments last week about the existence of White House tapes is accurate. (RELATED: Trump Implies There Is A Recording Of Conversation With Comey)
“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote last week.
The White House has declined to say whether Trump records his White House conversations.
Comey’s associate told TheDC that the former FBI chief was initially concerned about being able to corroborate his notes about the meetings with Trump. But the release of any potential White House records would be a welcome development, the associate said.
This article has been updated with additional information and comments from Comey’s associate.