The White House is disputing a New York Times report that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia during a meeting in February.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey, referring to the Flynn investigation, Comey wrote in a memo shortly after an Oval Office meeting with Trump, the Times reports.
The memo was written the day after Flynn resigned. It was not seen by Times reporters, but a Comey associate read part of the document to the reporters. NBC News has also confirmed the existence of the memo, which is part of a trail of documents created by Comey depicting “Trump’s campaign to derail the FBI’s investigation of alleged Russian ties to his presidential campaign,” a source told the news network.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, the Times reports, citing the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
NBC News also confirmed that same statement was in Comey’s memo. According to NBC News, the meeting came after Comey sat down with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sources close to Comey told the news network that Trump kicked everyone else out of the meeting, and then made the request that he end the investigation.
Comey also wrote in his memo that Trump talked about leaks of classified material to the press, saying that Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing the material.
The White House issued a statement after the Times report was published Tuesday, one week after Trump fired 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 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 said in the statement, which was distributed to the press pool and not attributed to a specific person.
The White House added that acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testified last week that the Trump administration has not interfered with any investigation.