Memos by ex-FBI director James Comey detailing his conversations with Donald Trump have been published. The memos cover the president’s concerns about a lurid intelligence dossier and also go into his relationship with his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn.
By – bbc.com
The notes quote the president as saying Mr Flynn had “serious judgment issues”.
Mr Trump tweeted that the memos showed there was no “collusion and no obstruction”.
Mr Trump sacked Mr Comey last year while he was leading an FBI investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Since then the men have been locked into a bitter and public war of words.
Mr Comey has painted Mr Trump as “morally unfit” to be US president, and suggested he may have obstructed justice by trying to pressure him into dropping any investigation into Mr Flynn.
Mr Flynn was forced to resign over charges that he had lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
So what is in the memos?
Mr Comey’s partially redacted memos were handed to Congress on Thursday.
Details published in Mr Comey’s 15 pages of notes are consistent with allegations in his new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.
In his memos, Mr Comey writes that he was asked by Mr Trump to drop an inquiry into links between Mr Flynn and Russia.
“I hope you can let this go,” Mr Trump is reported to have said after a White House meeting. Mr Trump strongly denies Mr Comey’s account.
Other conversations documented in the memos include Mr Trump’s concerns over salacious allegations in an intelligence dossier.
At a meeting in Trump Tower in New York just days before Mr Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, Mr Comey spoke alone with the then president-elect about details of an alleged encounter involving prostitutes in Russia.
Mr Comey writes that he took the allegations seriously, adding that “portions of the material were corroborated by other intelligence”.
The allegations claim that Russia has damaging information about Mr Trump’s business interests, and that he had been filmed with prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.
According to the notes, the president told Mr Comey that he “hadn’t stayed overnight” at the Ritz-Carlton but that his concern was “if his wife had any doubt about it”.
How significant are the memos?
Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington
The Comey memos have been made public at last. The amount of time they took to reach reporters after being handed over to Congress could be measured in minutes, if not seconds. Now both sides on the great Trump-Comey divide are claiming the documents vindicate their views of the matter.
The memos offer some additional details of the then-FBI director’s interactions with the president, but they largely corroborate Mr Comey’s account of the key events that have been public for almost a year. The request for loyalty over a private dinner. The Oval Office pull-aside to ask if the director could back off the investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
That Mr Comey wrote these memos shortly after the events in question either provides damning substantiation of his claims of possible presidential obstruction of justice and improper pressure or proves the then-director was out to get Mr Trump from the start.
With this latest move and the Comey book media blitz, the public pretty much has the full breadth of the former director’s side of the story – and, quite clearly, what he currently thinks of the president’s behaviour.
What we don’t know is whether this will take a lasting political toll on Mr Trump or if there’s evidence – discovered by Robert Mueller in the investigation that started after Mr Comey’s dismissal – that will lead to further criminal charges against Mr Trump’s team.
What does Trump think of Comey?
Mr Trump has referred to Mr Comey as “slippery” and a “slimeball” and the “worst FBI director in history”.
He continues to attack him over his “many lies” – Mr Trump has even suggested he be jailed over his testimony to Congress.
“Why did he lie to Congress (jail),” Mr Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “How come he gave up classified information (jail).”
He has also criticised Mr Comey’s new memoir, saying the “badly reviewed book” raises “big questions”.
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Read more: From 2018/04/18