President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey in a phone call when federal authorities would publicly announce the president wasn’t under suspicionin the bureau’s investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Two people briefed on the call told the newspaper it took place simply weeks after Trump’s inauguration. Comey declined to answer the question.
Trump’s inquiry to the FBI director was one of several instances in which his government directly requested information about the FBI probe into whether representatives from the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election.
In February, senior White House officials confirmed that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus requested FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to publicly dispute reports of communications between Trump campaign public officials and Russia.
This week, The New York Times reported that Comey wrote in a February memo that the president had asked him to drop the bureau’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired after he failed to disclose communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey and a senior companion at the Brookings Institution, was quoted by the Times in Thursday’s article saying that Comey was deeply concerned by the administration’s petitions.
” Comey spent a great deal of energy doing what he alternately described as’ training’ the White House that officials had to go through the Justice Department and’ reestablishing’ normal hands-off White House-Bureau relations ,” Wittes wrote on the Lawfare blog,of which he is the editor-in-chief, after the Times section was published.
” Comey understood Trump’s people as having neither knowledge of nor respect for the independence of enhanced enforcement part ,” Wittes added.” And he saw it as an ongoing duty on his part to shield the rest of the Bureau from improper contacts and interventions from a group of people he did not considered as honorable .”
The Justice Department has long sought to keep an appropriate interval from the White House. A 2009 memoranda from then-Attorney General Eric Holder set guidelines about interactions , mentioning the DOJ was able to admonishes the concerned authorities” pertaining pending or contemplated criminal or civilian investigations when — but only when — it is important for the performance of the President’s duties and appropriate form a law enforcement view .”
Trump abruptly fired Comey last week, and included an unusual passing in his expulsion letter “says hes” “greatly” realized Comey informing him” on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation .” Trump reiterated that degree in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt the next day, claiming the director told him there was no such investigation — once over dinner and twice on the phone.
One day afterward, reports surfaced about a dinner in which Trump requested Comey for his patriotism. Comey reportedly declined to make such a pledge.
According to Wittes, Comey was deeply unsettled with Trump’s attempts at reconciliation, and told the story of a White House ceremony periods after Trump took office that Comey was invited to attend. The FBI director didn’t feel comfy attending, and is seeking to” blend in with the draperies in the back of the chamber ,” Wittes wrote. But the president read him and depicted him in for an awkward hug.
Trump initially quoth Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation for the firing, but afterward mentioned he had considered the ongoing Russia probe before devoting Comey the boot.
” I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it ,” Trump told NBC News.” And in fact when I decided to simply do it, I said to myself, I mentioned,’ You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up narrative, it’s an excuse by the Democrat for having lost an election .'”
Amid developing subjects over the firing, and calls for an independent investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special lawyer overseeing the investigation into Russian affect in the 2016 presidential election.
Rosenstein said he appointed Mueller so the American people will have “full confidence” in the outcome of the investigation.
Trump on Thursday said the appointment” hurts home countries atrociously” and “ve called the” Russia probe a “witch hunt.”
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