President Donald Trump has responded with a direct "no, no" to a question about whether he asked former FBI Director James Comey to shelve an investigation into his former national security adviser.
The FBI is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including looking into any possible links between Trump campaign associates and the Kremlin. He denied this as well.
The Times reported that Comey wrote the memo immediately after meeting with Trump on February 14, one day after Flynn was asked to resign.
Yet while Trump's communications staff had pinned the decision to fire Comey on Rosenstein's recommendation in the days following Comey's abrupt ouster last week, in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt two days after Comey's firing Trump acknowledged that he "was going to fire" the Federal Bureau of Investigation director "regardless of recommendation".
"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed!" "I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein".
"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go", Trump told Comey, according to the memo.
"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country".More news: Politicians welcome Labour's clear election commitment to Gib
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"I think the shot to the body is it's now considered a criminal investigation, and Congress' ability to conduct investigations into all things Russian Federation has been severely limited", Sen.
Afterwards, Republican senator Lindsey Graham told reporters that "everything he said was that you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation".
A self-described friend of Comey's wrote in a public blog post on Thursday that Comey had told him that he had rebuffed a Trump request for loyalty by promising only honesty.
Trump and the White House initially said that he'd chose to fire Comey on Rosenstein's advice, before walking that back some, with the president acknowledging he'd already made that decision. The president's anger contrasted with a more measured written statement released by the White House on Wednesday evening, when Trump declared that a thorough investigation would find "no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity".
"But when I made that decision, I actually thought it would be a bipartisan decision". It cited two people briefed on the call.
"No", he said when he was asked about the report during a White House news conference on Thursday.
The Daily Beast also reports that some of Trump's advisers have assured him that he "absolutely should not" consider giving Flynn another role in the White House.