Washington, Dec 4: President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he never asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, issuing a fresh denial amid a shifting timeline on when he may have known that Flynn had lied to the FBI.
Trump said on Twitter before dawn, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!” The president reiterated his version of events after Comey testified before Congress in June that Trump had asked him in a one-on-one meeting if he could see to “letting Flynn go.”
Trump shifted his story yesterday on why he fired Flynn, lumping in the retired Army lieutenant general’s lies to the FBI along with his untruthfulness with Vice President Mike Pence. The president’s initial explanation was that Flynn had to go because he hadn’t been straight with Pence about contacts with Russian officials.
Lying to the FBI is a crime, and one that Flynn acknowledged Friday in pleading guilty and agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Trump tweeted Saturday: “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
Amid questions raised by the tweet, Trump associates tried to put distance Saturday evening between the president himself and the tweet. One person familiar with the situation said the tweet was actually crafted by John Dowd, one of the president’s personal attorneys. Dowd declined to comment when reached by The Associated Press last night.
In another email wrinkle in the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, The New York Times reported yesterday that emails among top Trump transition officials suggested that Flynn was in close contact with other senior members of the transition team before and after he spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. A Dec. 29 email from K.T. McFarland, a transition adviser to Trump, suggested that Russian sanctions announced by the Obama administration had been aimed at discrediting Trump’s victory.