Trump Denies Asking Comey To Close Investigation on Flynn

Posted May 19, 2017

"Did you at any time urge former FBI director James Comey in any way shape or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?".

"No, no. Next question", he said, speaking at a press conference with the Colombian president.

Trump's critics are characterizing Trump's firing of Comey as an attempt at obstruction of justice by the president, with The New York Times writing that "taken together with the news of Mr. Comey's memo and reports that Mr. Trump had tried to extract a loyalty pledge from him after learning about the Flynn investigation, it is hard not to see the outlines of an attempt by Mr. Trump to quash a criminal investigation that could reach into the highest levels of his campaign and administration". Mr Comey, a diligent and generally well-respected Federal Bureau of Investigation director during his tenure, was known to write memos and disseminate them to his friends and allies in and out of the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he encountered situations that he thought were inappropriate.

On the subject of the allegations - started in July 2016 by the Hillary Clinton campaign and embraced by Democrats and some of the media since her surprise defeat in November - that he and his campaign colluded with Russia, Trump said that "the entire thing has been a witch hunt".

He said that he thinks the appointment of a special counsel "divides the country".

He repeatedly denied collusion with Russian Federation, an idea he said even his enemies support. "Believe me, there's no collusion". Last week in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt, he claimed he had been planning to fire Comey and called him a "grandstander".

"I actually thought when I made that decision, that it would be a bipartisan decision".

Trump fired Comey one week ago, in what the White House initially said was based on the recommendations of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "Russia's fine", Trump said.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go", Trump told Comey, according to the memo. "Because you look at all of the people on the Democratic side, not only the Republican side, that were saying such awful things about director Comey", he said.

Meanwhile, intelligence community veterans anxious that sharing intelligence gleaned from a US ally without their permission could endanger sources on the ground and make countries less willing to share intel with Washington.

One Republican official, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, said after meeting Trump recently he did not think the president had a firm enough grasp on the nuances of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.