Ex-FBI chief claims Trump pressurized him to drop Russia probe
Former FBI Director James Comey said US President Donald Trump had asked him to stop investigating former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn was being investigated in a wider probe into Russia's alleged interference in last year's presidential election. Comey's allegations came in a written testimony released on June 7, a day prior to his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump's NSA Michael Flynn resigns over Russia links
In February, US President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was reportedly forced to resign. The move came after several news-outlets reported that former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates had warned the White House that Flynn may have been vulnerable to blackmail from Russia. Flynn had reportedly spoken to the Russian ambassador about sanctions prior to Trump's inauguration and misled US officials.
Trump fires FBI director James Comey over Clinton emails
On May 10, US President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey over his handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. His dismissal came after it emerged that he provided inaccurate information about Clinton's emails in a Congressional testimony last week. The White House said that the announcement has sent shockwaves across Washington. Comey was investigating the Trump team's alleged links to Russia.
Trump asked for Comey for his "loyalty"
In his testimony, Comey wrote about a series of meetings or phone conversations with Trump. Comey said that on January 26, during a private dinner with Trump, the president asked Comey whether he wanted to continue as FBI director. Trump told him, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty." Comey expressed concern that Trump was trying to create "some sort of patronage relationship."
Trump told Comey to 'let Flynn investigation go'
During a meeting on February 14, Comey said Trump brought up the subject of ex-NSA Michael Flynn. Comey quoted Trump as telling him: "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." The FBI was investigating Flynn over his alleged ties to Russia.
Trump wanted Comey to 'lift the cloud' on Russia investigation
On March 30, Trump called Comey saying the FBI's Russia investigation was "a cloud that was impairing his ability" to lead America. He asked Comey what "we could do to lift the cloud," adding that he had "nothing to do with Russia." Comey said he assured Trump that he himself wasn't under investigation. "We need to get that fact out," Trump responded.
Trump's attorney says president feels vindicated by Comey's statement
Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz reacted to the release of Comey's testimony saying the president was "pleased" by the former FBI director's confirmation that he wasn't being investigated in the Russia probe. "The president feels completely and totally vindicated," Kasowitz said.
Testimony will increase pressure on Trump amid impeachment calls
Experts believe Comey's claims that Trump expected his loyalty and hoped he would drop the investigation into Flynn could strengthen impeachment case against the president on the grounds of obstruction of justice. However, under federal law, any criminal obstruction of justice requires proof that a person acted with "corrupt" intent. As a sitting president, it's very unlikely that Trump will face criminal prosecution.