President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey to abandon an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, the New York Times reports. On February 14, the day after Flynn resigned from his post amid allegations of lying about contact with Russia's ambassador, Trump reportedly met with Comey to ask for leniency in the FBI's investigation into Flynn. Immediately after the meeting, Comey wrote a memo detailing his discussions with Trump, the Times reports. Trump's alleged request would appear to establish motive for Comey's firing last week.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo, parts of which were read to the Times. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Trump reportedly also suggested that Comey condemn leaks and consider imprisoning journalists who published classified information. During an earlier dinner between Trump and Comey in January, Trump reportedly twice asked Comey to pledge loyalty to him, which Comey declined.
In a statement to the Times, the White House denied the conversation between Trump and Comey. “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 in a statement. “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.”
Trump has appeared to threaten Comey over disclosing information on their conversation. "James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump tweeted on Friday, less than two days after firing Comey.