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Trump denies asking FBI to drop Flynn probe

  • Published at 12:06 am December 4th, 2017
Trump denies asking FBI to drop Flynn probe
US President Donald Trump denied Sunday having asked former 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 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. [caption id="attachment_231817" align="aligncenter" width="800"] A photo on June 7, 2017 shows a part of the "Statement for the Record" released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of former FBI Director James B. Comey, to be read June 8, 2017, at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC AFP[/caption] 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 on Sunday, 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. In an ominous turn for the president, Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and pledged to cooperate with Robert Mueller, US special investigator who has been probing Russian collusion in 2016 presidential election. White House officials told The New York Times that in his tweet Saturday Trump was only referencing Flynn's guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his conversations with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Trump's personal lawyer John Dowd told ABC News that he had drafted the tweet and had done so in a "sloppy" manner.

What the president knew, and when

Mueller's focus goes beyond possible collusion with Russia to business dealings and whether Trump himself tried to thwart the investigation. Trump also expressed anger Sunday over word that a senior FBI counterintelligence official, Peter Strzok, was removed from the Russia investigation over the summer for sending text messages critical of Trump. Strzok had also worked on the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. "ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE" Now it all starts to make sense!" Trump wrote. As he left for a day trip to New York on Saturday, Trump again insisted his team had not plotted with Moscow to sway the election in his favor over Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost the all-important electoral college count. "What has been shown is no collusion. There's been absolutely no collusion. So we're very happy," Trump said. Comey himself seemed to be addressing the latest developments in an Instagram message: "To paraphrase the Buddha -- Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun; the moon; and the truth."