Lawmakers on Tuesday called for more information after reports of a memo detailing how President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The explosive new development followed a week of chaos at the White House. Trump fired Comey on May 9 and then discussed sensitive national security information about Daesh with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on May 10.
The White House said the memo written by Comey after he met with Trump in February was not an accurate portrayal of the conversation.
TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic reports.
Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with Kislyak before Trump took office and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
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Media reports of the Comey memo prompted members of Congress to renew calls for an independent probe into the Trump campaign's possible connections to Russia and for Comey to testify before Congress.
Reactions ranged from officials on both sides of the aisle, political commentators, academics and of course journalists.
- Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House oversight committee, sent a letter to the FBI on Tuesday requesting that it turn over all documents and recordings that detail communications between Comey and Trump. He said he would give the FBI a week and then "if we need a subpoena we'll do it."
- "This is an explosive allegation and it appears like a textbook case of criminal obstruction of justice. We need to hear testimony immediately from Director Comey - in public ... We also obviously need to get Director Comey's memos immediately, as well as all associated records, including any audio tapes, and notes, if they exist," Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings in a statement.
- "I don't want to read a memo. I want to hear it from him (Comey)," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in an MSNBC interview.
- "The memo is powerful evidence of obstruction of justice and certainly merits immediate and prompt investigation by an independent special prosecutor. If there were ever a final nail on the case for an independent, special prosecutor this is it," said Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.
- "We're a long ways from a conviction - the fact that we simply have a headline in the New York Times," Republican Representative Trey Gowdy said.
- "If true, this is yet another disturbing allegation that the president may have engaged in some interference or obstruction of the investigation. I think we know enough now. There's been enough alleged publicly to want to bring the director back to testify, ideally in open session, either before our committee or the Judiciary Committee," Democratic Representative Adam Schiff said.
- "Country must have answers. It is clear former FBI Director Comey should testify before Congress," Republican Representative Frank LoBiondo said.
- "If these reports are true, the president's brazen attempt to shut down the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn is an assault on the rule of law that is fundamental to our democracy. At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power. At worst, he has obstructed justice," said Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi.
"It is time for us to do what Teddy Roosevelt did and pick up the antitrust stick again." #CAPIdeas— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 16, 2017
- "I'm shocked and surprised by this development and would like to discuss it with Chairman Grassley and look forward to doing so. The Judiciary Committee is the appropriate place to hold a hearing and get to the bottom of exactly what was said and by whom," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said.
- "For the president to tell the FBI to end a potential criminal investigation, that's obstruction of justice," said Erwin Chereminsky, a constitutional law professor and dean of University of California, Irvine School of Law. "This is what caused President Nixon to resign from office."
- "The stories of the last week raise serious questions about whether the president respects the independence of the FBI and law enforcement authorities. It is vital that Congress obtain these memos and hear public testimony from former Director Comey ... The American people deserve answers about President Trump's conduct," said Democratic Senator Bob Casey.
It's early yet, Comey's memos haven't been released or authenticated & he is a villain to many. But no serious person thinks Comey is a liar https://t.co/DK5ZHSjGz8— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) May 16, 2017
Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said he would ask Comey for additional material as part of that panel's investigation. "Memos, transcripts, tapes — the list keeps getting longer."