Former FBI Director James Comey will tell the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that President Donald Trump did not ask him to close the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Comey’s prepared statement for the panel was made public early Wednesday afternoon. In the course of his statement, the former director recounts his recollection of a conversation he had with the president in the Oval Office on Feb. 14. Media accounts of this meeting have suggested that Trump asked him to close his probe of possible collaboration between campaign aides and elements of the Russian government.
The former director disputes that characterization:
I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.
According to Comey’s account, the president defend his disgraced former National Security Advisor, and insisted he did not violate the Logan Act in the course of his conversations with Russian officials during the transitions. Unnamed sources alleged in the pages of the Washington Post that Flynn had raised the prospect of dropping sanctions during these calls.
He went on to call the general a “good guy” and expressed hope that Comey would close the Bureau’s investigation of Flynn without criminal charges.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the president said. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey will appear before the Senate panel Thursday.
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