Donald Trump says he fired James Comey because he was 'unpopular'
President Donald Trump has said during a press conference that he didn't try to shut down an investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
"No. No. Next question," Mr Trump said when asked if he had asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop the bureau's investigation, which a memo written by Mr Comey reportedly alleges.
The statement contradicts a a written account of the encounter between Mr Comey and Mr Trump that was penned shortly after a meeting between the two men. Mr Comey, a diligent and generally well-respected FBI director during his tenure, was known to write memos and disseminate them to his friends and allies in and out of the FBI when he encountered situations that he thought were inappropriate.
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"I hope you can let this go," Mr Trump told Mr Comey the day after Mr Flynn resigned, according to the memo.
The revelation that Mr Trump may have asked his FBI director to stop investigating a member of his staff who had been the subject of scandal for misrepresenting conversations he had with Russian officials during the transition period, was seen as one of the clearest signs that Mr Trump had tried to directly influence investigations by the Justice Department and the FBI. Mr Trump said on national television last week that the Russian investigation, which he says is an attempt by Democrats to save face following an embarrassing electoral defeat, was a consideration in making the decision to can Mr Comey.
The Justice Department recently appointed a special prosecutor to head the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, will lead that investigation.
Congressional committees in the House and the Senate are also conducting investigations.