WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBS News) — Sources told CBS News late Tuesday that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation focusing on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
A senior law enforcement source and a source familiar with the matter confirmed the existence of a memo in which Trump asked Comey to end the probe. The memo was first reported by the New York Times.
According to a source who is familiar with the matter, Mr. Comey wrote the memo after the a Feb. 14 meeting at the White House because “Comey is a careful lawyer” and he knew he had to be careful with this situation.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” sources said the memo read.
A source familiar with Comey told CBS News that Comey was known to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, the White House denied the claims.
“The President has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the White House said.
Trump fired Flynn late on Feb. 13 for providing inaccurate accounts of his contacts with the Russian ambassador last year.
The White House said Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
In a resignation letter, Flynn said he gave Pence and others “incomplete information” about his calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.
In the letter, he also blamed “the fast pace of events” during the presidential transition for causing him to “inadvertently leave out key details of phone calls with the Russian ambassador prior to inauguration.”
Trump removed Comey as head of the FBI on Tuesday, May 9, raising questions about whether the White House wanted to scuttle an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 elections.
After Comey was fired, a senior FBI official told CBS News, “There is a whole lot of interfering in the Russia investigation.” The official was referring to White House and Department of Justice actions as they relate to the Russia investigation.
The White House said in a statement that Comey was terminated and removed from office based on “the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”
The following morning, Trump said he fired Comey because he “wasn’t not doing a good job.”
Trump made the remarks to reporters in the Oval Office with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger after a closed meeting with Russia’s foreign minister.
“Very simply he was not doing a good job,” Trump said in his first in-person statement to the press since Comey’s firing Tuesday.
Trump then took to Twitter early Friday morning, saying “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”
Speaking to CBS News’ Nancy Cordes Tuesday evening, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-California) said an investigation into whether the Trump administration is obstruction the Russia probe is warranted.
“Congress needs to bring Director Comey back to testify. We need to get those notes if they exit. We need to get tapes if they exist,” Schiff said. “But there is, I think mounting concerns over just how this administration appears to be interfering with the Russia investigation.”
But some Trump supporters wondered why Comey did not make the story public when it supposedly happened.
“He would have had an obligation to step forward at the time and go and make that public or brought it up when he briefed members of Congress,” said former Trump Transition Team Communications Director Jason Miller.
The president has said he may pick an FBI nominee by Friday.