WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers on Tuesday called for more information after reports that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The White House said a memo written by Comey after he met with Trump in February was not an accurate portrayal of the conversation. Details of the memo were first reported by The New York Times and were confirmed by a Reuters source.
Last week, the Republican president fired Comey, who had been leading an investigation into the Trump 2016 presidential campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to influence the election outcome.
Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
Media reports of the Comey memo prompted members of Congress to renew calls for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia and for Comey to testify before Congress.
Here are reactions from Capitol Hill:
“@GOPoversight is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”
– Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Twitter. He later sent the Federal Bureau of Investigation a letter asking for all memos, notes and recordings between Comey and Trump by May 24.
“What we’re seeing … is an obstruction of justice case unfolding in real time. And I’m still stunned that more of my Republican colleagues are not standing strong and speaking out.”
– Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal to CNN
“I have to say yes simply because obstruction of justice is such a serious offense. And I say it with sadness and reluctance.”
– Independent Senator Angus King, asked on CNN if Congress was getting close to impeachment proceedings
“We’re a long ways from a conviction – the fact that we simply have a headline in The New York Times.”
– Republican Representative Trey Gowdy on Fox News
“We need to have all the facts and it is appropriate for the House Oversight Committee to request this memo.”
– AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, in a statement
“I don’t want to read a memo. I want to hear it from him (Comey).”
– Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in an MSNBC interview
“This is an explosive allegation and it appears like a textbook case of criminal obstruction of justice. We need to hear testimony immediately from Director Comey – in public. … We also obviously need to get Director Comey’s memos immediately, as well as all associated records, including any audio tapes, and notes, if they exist.”
– Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings in a statement
“If true, this is yet another disturbing allegation that the president may have engaged in some interference or obstruction of the investigation. I think we know enough now. There’s been enough alleged publicly to want to bring the director back to testify, ideally in open session, either before our committee or the Judiciary Committee.”
– Democratic Representative Adam Schiff to reporters
“Country must have answers. It is clear former FBI Director Comey should testify before Congress.”
– Republican Representative Frank LoBiondo on Twitter
“If these reports are true, the president’s brazen attempt to shut down the FBI’s investigation of Michael Flynn is an assault on the rule of law that is fundamental to our democracy. At best, President Trump has committed a grave abuse of executive power. At worst, he has obstructed justice.”
– Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi in a statement
“I’m shocked and surprised by this development and would like to discuss it with Chairman Grassley and look forward to doing so. The Judiciary Committee is the appropriate place to hold a hearing and get to the bottom of exactly what was said and by whom.”
– Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein in a statement
“The stories of the last week raise serious questions about whether the president respects the independence of the FBI and law enforcement authorities. It is vital that Congress obtain these memos and hear public testimony from former Director Comey. … The American people deserve answers about President Trump’s conduct.”
– Democratic Senator Bob Casey in a statement
(Compiled by Bill Trott; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
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