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Comey-Trump Memos Released             04/20 06:23

   In a series of startlingly candid conversations, President Donald Trump told 
former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious concerns about the judgment 
of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of jailing journalists and 
described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian prostitutes, according to 
Comey's notes of the talks obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday night.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a series of startlingly candid conversations, 
President Donald Trump told former FBI Director James Comey that he had serious 
concerns about the judgment of a top adviser, asked about the possibility of 
jailing journalists and described a boast from Vladimir Putin about Russian 
prostitutes, according to Comey's notes of the talks obtained by The Associated 
Press on Thursday night.

   The 15 pages of documents contain new details about a series of interactions 
with Trump that Comey found so unnerving that he chose to document them in 
writing. Those seven encounters in the weeks and months before Comey's May 2017 
firing include a Trump Tower discussion about allegations involving Trump and 
prostitutes in Moscow; a White House dinner at which Comey says Trump asked him 
for his loyalty; and a private Oval Office discussion where the ex-FBI head 
says the president asked him to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, the 
former White House national security adviser.

   The documents had been eagerly anticipated since their existence was first 
revealed last year, especially since Comey's interactions with Trump are a 
critical part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether 
the president sought to obstruct justice. Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted 
that the memos "show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION."

   The president also accused Comey of leaking classified information. The 
memos obtained by the AP were unclassified, though some portions were blacked 
out as classified. Details from Comey's memos reported in news stories last 
year appear to come from the unclassified portions.

   In explaining the purpose of creating the memos, which have been provided to 
Mueller, Comey has said he "knew there might come a day when I would need a 
record of what had happened" to defend not only himself but the FBI as well.

   The memos cover the first three months of the Trump administration, a period 
of upheaval marked by staff turnover, a cascade of damaging headlines and 
revelations of an FBI investigation into potential ties between the Trump 
campaign and Russia. The documents reflect Trump's uneasiness about that 
investigation, though not always in ways that Comey seemed to anticipate.

   In a February 2017 conversation, for instance, Trump told Comey how Putin 
told him, "we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world" even as the 
president adamantly, and repeatedly, distanced himself from a salacious 
allegation concerning him and prostitutes in Moscow, according to one memo.

   In another memo, Comey recounts how Trump at a private White House dinner 
pointed his fingers at his head and complained that Flynn, his embattled 
national security adviser, "has serious judgment issues." The president blamed 
Flynn for failing to alert him promptly to a congratulatory call from a world 
leader, causing a delay for Trump in returning a message to an official whose 
name is redacted in the documents.

   "I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention 
or acknowledgment of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn," Comey 
wrote.

   By that point, the FBI had already interviewed Flynn about his contacts with 
the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and the Justice Department had already 
warned White House officials that they were concerned Flynn was vulnerable to 
blackmail.

   Flynn was fired Feb. 13, 2017, after White House officials said he had 
misled them about his Russian contacts during the transition period by saying 
that he had not discussed sanctions. The following day, according to a separate 
memo, Comey says Trump cleared the Oval Office of other officials, encouraged 
him to let go of the investigation into Flynn and called him a good guy. Flynn 
pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now cooperating with Mueller's 
investigation.

   The memos reveal that days before Flynn's firing, then-White House chief of 
staff Reince Priebus asked Comey if Flynn's communications were being monitored 
under a secret surveillance warrant.

   "Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?" Priebus asked Comey, according to 
the memos, referring to an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance 
Act.

   Comey said he "paused for a few seconds and then said that I would answer 
here, but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and 
answered through established channels."

   Comey's response is redacted on the unclassified memos.

   The memos also show Trump's continued distress at a dossier of allegations 
--- compiled by an ex-British spy whose work was funded by the Democratic 
National Committee and the Clinton campaign --- examining potential ties 
between him and his aides and the Kremlin. Comey writes how Trump repeatedly 
denied to him having been involved in an encounter with Russian prostitutes in 
a Moscow hotel.

   "The President said 'the hookers thing' is nonsense," Comey writes, noting 
that Trump then related the conversation with Putin about the "most beautiful 
hookers." Comey says Trump did not say when Putin had made the comment.

   The documents also include the president's musings about pursuing leakers 
and imprisoning journalists. They also provide insight into Comey's personal 
and professional opinions. He judges the administration's travel ban to be 
legally valid, and he takes a swipe at former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, 
calling her predecessor, Eric Holder, "smarter and more sophisticated and 
smoother."

   The memos were provided to Congress earlier Thursday as House Republicans 
escalated criticism of the Justice Department, threatening to subpoena the 
documents and questioning officials.

   In a letter sent to three Republican House committee chairmen Thursday 
evening, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote that the department was 
sending a classified version of the memos and an unclassified version. The 
department released Boyd's letter publicly but did not release the memos. The 
chairmen issued a statement late Thursday saying the memos show that Comey 
clearly never felt threatened, and Trump didn't obstruct justice.

   Justice officials had allowed some lawmakers to view the memos but had never 
provided copies to Congress. Boyd wrote that the department had also provided 
the memos to several Senate committees.

   Boyd wrote in the letter that the department "consulted the relevant 
parties" and concluded that releasing the memos would not adversely affect any 
ongoing investigations. Mueller is investigating potential ties between Russia 
and Trump's 2016 campaign as well as possible obstruction of justice by the 
president.

   Comey is on a publicity tour to promote his new book, "A Higher Loyalty." He 
revealed last year that he had written the memos after conversations with Trump.

   He said in an interview Thursday with CNN that he's "fine" with the Justice 
Department turning his memos over to Congress.

   "I think what folks will see if they get to see the memos is I've been 
consistent since the very beginning, right after my encounters with President 
Trump, and I'm consistent in the book and tried to be transparent in the book 
as well," he said.


(KA)

 
 
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