Trump denies he asked Comey to pledge loyalty or drop the Flynn investigation

Some legal experts have said Trump would have been well within his constitutional powers to ask the FBI director to stop, or start, an investigation. Others argue that would be obstruction of justice.

world Updated: Jun 10, 2017 21:57 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump,former FBI director James Comey,sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn
Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews near Washington.(Reuters)

US President Donald Trump has said he never asked former FBI director James Comey to drop the investigation of sacked national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia contacts and said he was willing “100%” to give his own account under oath.

Trump also disputed Comey’s statement that he had sought a pledge of loyalty from him and indicated he may have recordings of their conversations which he will say more about “over a fairly short period of time”, but warned that “you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer”.

Comey on Thursday told a Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in US elections that Trump had asked him drop the case against Flynn in a one-on-one conversation in the Oval Office in February, the day after Flynn was fired.

And over dinner at the White House in an earlier interaction, Comey wrote in his opening testimony, Trump had demanded loyalty, possibly in return for letting him continue in the job.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump said to a question about Comey’s remarks that the president had asked him stop the Flynn probe. When asked if the former FBI director was lying then, the president said, “Well, I didn’t say that. I mean, I will tell you I didn’t say that.”

Addressing Comey’s accusations for the first time in person, Trump also said, at a joint news briefing with visiting Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, “And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today. But I did not say that.”

Donald Trump shakes hands with his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis after a joint news conference in the Rose Garden on Friday. (Reuters)

Some legal experts have said the president would have been well within his constitutional powers to ask the FBI director to stop, or start, an investigation if he did indeed do that. Others, however, have argued that would be obstruction of justice.

When asked about Comey’s claim about the pledge of loyalty, Trump said, “I’m not going to say, I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean, think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn’t make sense. No, I didn’t say that, and I didn’t say the other.”

Trump then went on to talk about recordings of these conversations, in response to a questions, that he had first suggested in a tweet after firing Comey. In his Friday remarks, Trump, who is known to have recorded conversations as a businessman, did not deny their existence.

“I’ll tell you about it over a very short period of time,” the president said, and, added when pressed, “Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don’t worry.”

The recordings came for reference at Comey’s testimony and his remarks about them, in response to a question, went viral on social media: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes. Release all the tapes — I’m good with it.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2017 21:57 IST