US President Donald Trump has denied having asked then FBI director James Comey to stop investigating former national security advisor Michael Flynn over his alleged contacts with Russian officials to alter last year’s US presidential election.
“I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News
covering another Comey lie!” Trump said Sunday in a tweet.
After he was fired himself in May, Comey testified under oath before a Senate panel that, a day after Flynn’s firing, Trump asked him to drop an investigation into the former national security advisor.
Trump fired Comey in May, citing the FBI chief’s probe into the alleged links between the presidential campaign and Russian interference.
On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.
In his Sunday Twitter messages, Trump also attacked his own FBI, saying the federal law enforcement agency’s reputation is “in tatters.”
The president was responding to reports that a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation about alleged Russian election interference because of anti-Trump text messages.
Trump also repeated his claim that he and his campaign had not colluded with Russia in last year’s presidential election, and shifted blame on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness,” he said.
That comment about Flynn appeared to indicate Trump was acknowledging he knew at the time of Flynn’s firing in February that he had lied to the bureau’s agents.
White House officials, however, said that Trump was only referencing Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his conversations with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak over sanctions former US President Barack Obama slapped on Russia for election meddling.
A day earlier on Saturday, Trump defended the actions of his former national security advisor as “lawful.”
Flynn was forced to resign after information surfaced about his communications with Kislyak.
Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, briefly served as US national security advisor for Trump from January 20 to February 13, 2017. His tenure of just 24 days was the shortest in the history of the office.