Former FBI Director James Comey says US President Donald Trump asked him to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn as part of a probe into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In written testimony on Wednesday, Comey said Trump told him at a meeting in the White House in February: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
The testimony from Comey, who will appear in person before a Senate panel at midnight (AEST) on Thursday, puts more pressure on the Republican whose presidency has been overshadowed by allegations that Moscow helped him win last year’s election.
But Trump, through his outside counsel, said he felt “completely and totally vindicated” by the account.
“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,” Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s lawyer, said in a statement.
Trump fired Flynn in February in a controversy over contacts between the retired general and the Russian ambassador to the United States. The FBI has been investigating Flynn as it looks into allegations of links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
In his statement, posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s website, Comey said Trump also called him on March 30 to say he had nothing to do with Russia and asked what “we could do to lift the cloud” of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
During that phone call, Comey said he told Trump the FBI was not investigating the president personally. “He repeatedly told me: ‘We need to get that fact out,'” Comey said.