Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Putin: Russia can provide transcript of White House meeting

Putin: Russia can provide transcript of White House meeting

The Trump impeachable offense du jour is the almost inevitable result of a classic example of shortsightedness: Trump's snap decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. He dangled the prospect that there were tapes of their conversations, suggesting he might use them if Comey leaked information to the press. And that should make Trump very anxious.

The White House immediately hit back at the report, denying its account of events. "I hope you can let this go", Trump allegedly said to Comey.

"Anyway, this is a United States matter, and we don't want and don't plan to interfere", the Russian president said.

King called Comey a "by-the-book guy", saying Congress must "get to the facts of this situation" and verify any conversation between Trump and Comey.

"Nobody knows where this really goes from here", a White House official said.

"I think obstruction of justice was the number one charge against Nixon that brought him down".

Kaine proceeded to detail the sequence of events, including Trump allegedly telling Comey to halt his investigation into Flynn and his ties to Russian Federation.

But the possible existence of a trove of Comey memos may be the real story here.

Russia probe is greatest witch hunt of a politician in US history
That means he can issue subpoenas, present evidence to a grand jury and bring charges - all the powers of a federal prosecutor. That would surely include Trump's firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

In one memo, Mr Comey claims that after clearing the room, President Trump asked him to end the investigation of General Michael Flynn. It's hard not to presume that Comey has notes about this meeting, too. An F.B.I. agent's contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations. Flynn was forced to resign February 13 after reports of the Yates-White House conversation.

"[The House Oversight Committee] is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists".

Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they wanted to see the memo.

Chaffetz sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday, giving the agency one week to produce any notes about Comey's conversation with Trump. CNN has confirmed the details of that memo.

The highly classified information about an Islamic State plot was collected by Israel, a crucial source of intelligence and close partner in the fight against some of the America's fiercest threats in the Middle East. Trump's disclosure of the information threatened to fray that partnership and piled pressure on the White House to explain the apparently on-the-spot decision to reveal the information to Russian diplomats in a meeting last week. Trump later admitted in a television interview about Comey's firing that he was bothered by "this Russian Federation thing" and said he would have fired Comey regardless of the Justice Department recommendation.

Mark Warner of Virginia, top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said he would ask Comey for additional material as part of that panel's investigation. Trump has told advisers he's aware of a need to make changes to his White House team, though it was unclear what those moves might be or whether any were imminent.

And for a president who issued a pretty outlandish threat last week, it's a remarkable turn of events.

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