House Oversight Chairman ‘ready to subpoena’ Trump over reporting of Comey communications
US House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz has demanded that the FBI turn over all documents about communications between President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey.
Chaffetz’s request comes after The New York Times reported that Trump allegedly asked Comey to shut down the FBI's investigation into former NSA Adviser Michael Flynn, national security adviser to President Trump, who stepped down in February over his phone talks with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
General Flynn was forced to resign after he “inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding his phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” he wrote in his resignation letter. Flynn’s 24-day run on the National Security Committee was the shortest stint as national security adviser ever.
“If true, these memoranda raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen. Flynn,”Chaffetz wrote to acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
“So the committee can consider that question and others, provide, no later than May 24, 2017, all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings referring to or relating to any communications between Comey and the president.”
Chaffetz told NBC News that if the memo exists and accurately recorded the conversation, “that seems like an extraordinary use of influence to try to shut down an investigation being done by the FBI.”
“I have my subpoena pen ready,” he tweeted.
“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 told Fox News.
.@GOPoversight is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) 16 мая 2017 г.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin threw his weight behind Chaffetz's request for the FBI correspondence.
“We need to have all the facts, and it is appropriate for the House Oversight Committee to request this memo,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said in a statement.
“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,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
“At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power. At worst, he has obstructed justice.”
The White House responded to the New York Times report by saying that the story was “not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation” between Trump and Comey.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General 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 General Flynn,” the White House said in a statement, provided to NBC News.
“The President has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations.”
Trump fired Comey last Tuesday, with the president saying that the move was linked to the Russia inquiry.
“And in fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,’” Trump told NBC News.
The main reason for firing James Comey was the FBI being “in turmoil,” Trump said, branding the former intelligence chief a “showboat.”
“He's a showboat, he's grandstander, the FBI has been in turmoil,” Trump said. “You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that.”
Despite the previous claims by the White House, that Trump “acted based on the clear recommendations” of the Department of Justice, he actually made the decision ahead of receiving them from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“Regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,”Trump stated.