“I hope you can let this go,” Don’t probe Mr Flynn, Mr. Trump told the former FBI director

Peoples Digest Online-     President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to back off the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn shortly after Mr.Flynn had resigned, according to two people close to Mr. Comey. The people said they had seen a memo written by Mr. Comey that documented a meeting with the president during which Mr. Trump told the director that he hoped he could find a way to drop the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of Mr. Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” Mr. Trump told the former FBI director, according to the memo, which was described in detail by a person close to Mr. Comey. A second associate confirmed having seen the memo and the thrust of its contents. Both requested anonymity to describe the law enforcement record.

 The memo isn’t the only one that documents Mr. Comey’s encounters with the president, according to one of the people. There are “a number of encounters with the president that concerned him, and he wrote very detailed memos about those instances,” the person said. The person said Mr. Comey may have written a similar memo documenting his dinner with Mr. Trump on Jan. 27, when the president reportedly asked the director for his loyalty. Mr. Comey demurred, according to a third associate who spoke to Mr. Comey about the dinner.

Mr. Comey, who was abruptly fired May 9 by Mr. Trump, couldn’t be reached for comment. An FBI spokesman, Michael Kortan, declined to discuss the matter, as did spokespeople for the Justice Department. the existence of the memo was first reported by the New york TimesIn a statement issued Tuesday evening, the White House denied the account as described by those close to Mr. Comey. “While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that Gen. Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving Gen. Flynn,” the statement said.

 “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations,” the statement said. “This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.” The latest disclosure further roiled the waters after a turbulent stretch for the White House starting with the president’s unexpected firing of Mr. Comey a week ago. Because Mr. Comey was overseeing an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including any possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, the dismissal attracted criticism and questions from lawmakers of both parties.

 On Monday night, the administration confronted reported that Mr. Trump had disclosed sensitive intelligence information to Russian officials during a meeting at the White House last week. The disclosure of the Comey memo quickly prompted demands from Congress for more information, as lawmakers from both parties appeared taken aback by the reports. “I’m floored by that,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, adding that she was hearing of it for the first time and wanted to reserve judgment until she learned more. “There’s so much floating around—some of it’s true, some of it isn’t,” Ms. Collins said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said such a memo, if it existed, would be troubling. “I’d have concerns about it, but I don’t know anything about it,” he said. Mr. Grassley and other Republicans said they thought the memo would conflict with statements last week by Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who said in testimony before Congress that the White House hadn’t interfered with any investigation.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, expressed “stark surprise and deep concern,” saying she believed the committee should “hold full hearings on this immediately.” The meeting in question took place in the Oval Office after a regularly scheduled briefing on an unrelated matter and occurred a day or two after Mr. Flynn resigned on Feb. 13. The former national security adviser had been under pressure for having misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about the nature of his conversations with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Mr. Flynn had assured Mr. Pence and other White House officials he hadn’t discussed sanctions with Mr. Kislyak. In fact, they had talked about the sanctions in a phone conversation the very day the Obama administration levied penalties against the Kremlin for its alleged interference in the 2016 campaign. U.S. intelligence officers learned about the discussions after reading intercepts of Mr. Kislyak’s phone calls, officials have said.

The FBI is reportedly investigating Mr. Flynn for the conversations he had with the Russian diplomat and his financial dealings with Russia and Turkey. It isn’t clear if Mr. Trump was aware of the exact nature of the investigation into Mr. Flynn. In their private meeting, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey if he might “see your way clear to letting this go,” adding that he thought Mr. Flynn was “a good guy,” according to the person who read the memo.

Mr. Comey declined to talk about the Flynn investigation but agreed that Mr. Flynn was a good person, according to the associate. Ronald Hosko, a former senior FBI official, said Mr. Trump’s comments, if accurately recounted in the Comey memo, were “extraordinary, entirely out of bounds,” and that agents would be “shocked and dismayed” by the president’s actions.

Richard Painter, a chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House, said it would be obstruction of justice for the president to explicitly or implicitly threaten to fire the FBI director if he didn’t drop the investigation of Mr. Flynn. However, “if all he does is express his view that it’s an investigation he hopes will end, that in and of itself would not be obstruction of justice,” Mr. Painter said. He said the sequence of events appeared to show an implicit threat, given that Mr. Trump acknowledged he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Mr. Comey.

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