Comey memos detail phone calls, meetings with Trump

President Donald Trump (left) with Mr James Comey, then director of the FBI, in the White House in January last year. The memos, written before Mr Comey's firing, are believed to be evidence in a possible obstruction of justice case against Mr Trump
President Donald Trump (left) with Mr James Comey, then director of the FBI, in the White House in January last year. The memos, written before Mr Comey's firing, are believed to be evidence in a possible obstruction of justice case against Mr Trump being pursued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
The partially redacted memos of Mr James Comey after the US Justice Department released them to three House of Representatives committees on Thursday.
The partially redacted memos of Mr James Comey after the US Justice Department released them to three House of Representatives committees on Thursday.PHOTO: REUTERS

Redacted and declassified memos sent to Congress from Justice Department

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump spoke in intimate and candid terms to former FBI director James Comey about some of the most sensitive matters before the agency, according to Mr Comey's closely guarded memos.

Subjects covered included the dossier detailing Mr Trump's ties to Russia and the investigation into Mr Michael Flynn, the President's first national security adviser.

Mr Trump fired Mr Comey in May last year while the latter was leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion between Mr Trump's campaign and the Russians.

The Comey memos were written before his firing, which led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to continue the investigation.

The redacted and declassified memos - running to 15 pages in total and sent to Congress from the Justice Department on Thursday night - detail a series of phone calls and encounters between the two men in the months leading up to Mr Comey's firing.

They are believed to be evidence in a possible obstruction of justice case against Mr Trump being pursued by Mr Mueller.

Mr Trump tweeted late on Thursday that there was "NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION". "Will the Witch Hunt continue?" he added.

In one previously undisclosed exchange, Mr Trump told Mr Comey that Mr Flynn "has serious judgment issues".

Mr Comey said Mr Trump's comment came after he learnt there was a delay in returning a congratulatory phone call from a foreign leader. The Times reported at the time that Mr Trump was irritated at Mr Flynn for delaying such a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Flynn was eventually fired for misleading Vice-President Mike Pence and others about the details of a conversation with a Russian ambassador. Soon after, Mr Comey was again at the White House for another meeting. This time, he wrote, Mr Trump told him that Mr Flynn "hadn't done anything wrong" in calling the Russians and asked him to wrap up his inquiry.

Mr Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those conversations and is cooperating with investigators.

The memos include other previously undisclosed conversations that shed light on the FBI's Russia investigation. Regarding a Feb 8 meeting with Mr Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, for example, Mr Comey wrote that Mr Priebus asked about the contents of the dossier produced by a former British spy that lays out a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the election.

Mr Comey said Mr Trump denied that he had consorted with Russian prostitutes.

"The President said 'the hookers thing' is nonsense, but that Putin had told him 'we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world'," Mr Comey wrote. He said Mr Trump did not specify when the conversation with Mr Putin took place.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2018, with the headline 'Comey memos detail phone calls, meetings with Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe