Trump denies asking FBI to drop Flynn probe
Washington. — US President Donald Trump denied yesterday having asked then FBI director James Comey to stop investigating ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, as the Russia meddling probe darkened what would otherwise have been a victorious week for the Republican president.
Trump appeared to be backtracking furiously from a tweet on Saturday that deepened suspicions that he engaged in obstruction of justice — an impeachable offence — in the Russia scandal haunting his presidency.
In that Twitter post, Trump said he had fired Flynn in February for lying not just to the vice president but also to Comey’s FBI, which was probing Flynn over his pre-inauguration contacts with the Russian ambassador about US sanctions imposed by Barack Obama against Russia for interfering in the US election.
Comey has testified under oath to lawmakers that a day after firing Flynn, Trump asked him to drop the Flynn probe.
If Comey is to be believed, the Saturday tweet suggests Trump asked the FBI to lay off someone in his administration that Trump now acknowledges he knew had committed a felony — lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But yesterday, Trump insisted: “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”
Trump fired Comey in May and has said he did so with the Russia probe in mind.
Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence committee, said yesterday that suspicions of obstruction of justice by Trump are growing.
Schiff argued that if the evidence shows that Trump knew about and directed Flynn’s Russia contacts, and then asked Comey to drop the matter after his lies to the FBI came to light, “Then you get the case of obstruction of justice.”
“I think that’s the significance of this context in which the president was intervening,” he said on ABC’s This Week.
Senator Diane Feinstein told NBC: “I think what we are beginning to see is a case of obstruction of justice.”
“Clearly he is making progress,” Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
In an ominous turn for the president, Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with Mueller.
White House officials told The New York Times that in his tweet on Saturday Trump was only referencing Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his conversations with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. — AFP