James Comey says Donald Trump told him to back off Michael Flynn probe

A composite image of James Comey and Donald Trump.

Former FBI director James Comey has accused US President Donald Trump of trying to get him to water down the bureau's investigation into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Mr Trump asked Mr Comey to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn as part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether Moscow meddled in the election, according to testimony from Mr Comey posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee's website.

Mr Comey said Mr Trump told him at a dinner on January 27, a week after the President took office, that: "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty." 
The former director's testimony details several meetings and phone calls he had with Mr Trump following the election. Mr Comey describes at length a February 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which he understood Mr Trump was requesting him to drop any investigation of Mr Flynn.

"He then said, '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'," Mr Comey said, according to the prepared remarks. 
"I replied only that 'he is a good guy'. I did not say I would 'let this go'." Mr Comey, whom Mr Trump fired last month, is to deliver his testimony in person at a much-anticipated hearing at the intelligence committee at 10:00am on Thursday (local time).
Trump sought 'some sort of patronage relationship'

During the January 27 dinner, Mr Comey said the President asked him if he wanted to stay on as FBI director, which he found "strange" as Mr Trump had "already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay". 
The former FBI head said he became concerned — given the one-on-one setting — that Mr Trump was trying to create "some sort of patronage relationship".

"That concerned me greatly, given the FBI's traditionally independent status in the executive branch," Mr Comey said. 
"I added that I was not 'reliable' in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth." Probes of the Russia allegations have hung over Mr Trump's presidency since he took office and threaten to overwhelm his policy priorities, with several congressional committees conducting their own investigations of the alleged meddling by Moscow.

The Kremlin denies US intelligence agencies' conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Mr Trump's favour, using means such as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. 
Mr Trump's lawyer says the President is pleased Mr Comey confirmed he was not under investigation in the Russia probe.

"The President is pleased that Mr Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russian probe," attorney Marc Kasowitz said.

"The President feels completely and totally vindicated."

ABC

James Comey says Donald Trump told him to back off Michael Flynn probe James Comey says Donald Trump told him to back off Michael Flynn probe Reviewed by Nene Sochi-Okereke on Thursday, 8 June 2017 Rating: 5

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