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In his prepared testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, ousted FBI director James Comey detailed a February Oval Office meeting in which President Donald Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey wrote in his testimony that was released Wednesday that he went to the Oval Office on February 14 for a scheduled briefing with Trump and five others, including Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. There were also others in the room who sat behind Comey.
Comey wrote: “The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.”
He continued: “When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn.’ Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.”
Flynn was forced to resign after it emerged that he had spoken to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about US sanctions during the presidential transition period, when he was still a private citizen. Flynn reportedly misled Pence about those conversations, which led to his ousting.
Comey wrote that during his February meeting with the president, Trump also “made a long series of comments” criticizing leaks of classified information.
And it seems that Trump was insistent on being alone with Comey during that meeting.
“After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, [chief of staff] Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him,” Comey wrote. “The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.”
Trump then brought up Flynn again.
“The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, ‘He is a good guy and has been through a lot,'” Comey wrote. “He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President.”
Comey continued: “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.'”
Comey wrote that he replied that Flynn “is a good guy,” but did not say he would “let this go.”