James Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who was fired last month by President Donald Trump, will say in testimony tomorrow before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that Trump asked him to “see your way clear to letting this go,” in reference to an investigation into sacked National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
According to a statement for the record from Comey released Wednesday on the intelligence committee’s website, after a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asked to meet privately with Comey and said he wanted to talk about Flynn, who had been fired the previous day. The president began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians but that he had had to let him go because he had misled the vice president. “He is a good guy and has been through a lot. …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,” Comey quoted Trump as saying in his statement.
Comey added that he only agreed that Flynn was a good guy but did not say he would let anything go.
Immediately after the meeting Comey prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with senior FBI leadership. According to his statement, Comey had “understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. … it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.”
As part of a criminal probe in Virginia, Federal prosecutors are investigating a deal between Flynn and Turkish businessman Ekim Alptekin, a supporter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and head of a Netherlands-based consulting firm called Inovo BV, as well as chairman of the Turkey-US Business Council.
Alptekin’s company paid Flynn’s consulting firm $530,000 between September and November of 2016 to lobby against US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government and President Erdoğan blame for a failed coup last July.
According a story in The Wall Street Journal on May 31, Flynn’s lobbying firm produced an unfinished documentary last fall to boost Turkey’s image and defame Gülen following the failed military coup.
The work done on the documentary by Flynn’s firm reportedly took place while Flynn was campaigning on behalf of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The sponsor of the film paid Flynn’s consulting firm $530,000 for their lobbying work, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Flynn is under congressional, federal, and military investigation for allegations that he illegally withheld his financial ties to the Kremlin and Turkey, which stood the risk of influencing him while he served in the White House. He resigned from his top post as national security adviser earlier this year after it became known he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with a top Russian diplomat.