Memos add new details to Comey's story

CNN's Laura Jarrett reads part of James Comey's memo about his conversation with President Trump about Michael Flynn. According to Comey's testimony, Trump said: "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."

Posted: Apr 20, 2018 10:14 PM
Updated: Apr 20, 2018 10:14 PM

In his memos documenting conversations with President Donald Trump, former FBI Director James Comey recounts Trump's "serious reservations" about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn as well as the President's concerns about media leaks and Trump's recollection of Russian President Vladimir Putin telling him that Russia had the "most beautiful hookers in the world."

The Comey memos provided to Congress on Thursday and obtained by CNN include documentation of seven conversations he had with Trump from January 7, 2017, through April 11, 2017. Four of the notes are classified and have been partially redacted, and three of them are unclassified.

The contemporaneous notes that Comey compiled have already had a major impact: They helped lead to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, formed the basis of Trump's constant criticism that Comey is "a leaker" and sparked accusations that Comey provided classified information to a friend.

But the 15 pages that are now public recounting those conversations also provide a glimpse into how Comey and Trump tried to interact and coexist despite what the President described as the "cloud" of the Russia probe, before Comey was fired on May 9, 2017.

The memos were sent to Congress by the Justice Department under pressure from House Republicans, who argue they show why Comey -- now in the midst of a high-profile book tour -- is not credible and that the memos undercut any possible obstruction of justice case Mueller would pursue against the President for firing Comey.

Late Thursday, Trump tweeted: "James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?"

There are several recurring themes through the conversations: Trump frequently brings up leaks to the media and they discuss trying to find the source of the leaks. Trump also at least twice brought up the "golden showers thing" and said he was concerned even if there was a small chance his wife had thought it was true.

In the January 7 memo, Comey writes that Trump interjected, "there were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes" about his 2013 trip to Moscow.

In his January 27 conversation with Trump, Comey recounted, in a memo written the next day, that Trump said "the hookers thing is nonsense," but then later said that "Putin had told him, 'we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'"

Read: James Comey's memos

Comey also writes that the President said on January 27 he had "serious reservations" about Flynn, who soon left the administration and later pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials.

Trump explained that his reservations about Flynn's judgment by discussing a story about a toast to British Prime Minister Theresa May and someone else who Flynn had said called before her after Trump was inaugurated, but Flynn had not told the President.

"In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said 'the guy has serious judgment issues,'" Comey writes. "I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgment of any FBI interest or contact with General Flynn."

The unclassified memos include the now-famous conversation Trump had with Comey where he told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go."

"I replied by saying, 'I agree he is a good guy,' but said no more," Comey writes.

In the February 8 memo, Comey also recounts a conversation with then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, where he says that Priebus asked him whether it was a "private conversation," and asked Comey, "Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?"

Comey said that he answered Priebus' question, but first told him that it was "the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels."

Trump is also focused on loyalty, as Comey has said in congressional testimony and his book. In their final April 11 conversation, Comey writes that Trump told him: "I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know."

Comey said that he assumed Trump was referring to his previous pledge for loyalty before his inauguration, where Comey responded he would provide "honesty," and Trump responded, "honest loyalty."

Trump's complaints about the "cloud" hanging over him thanks to the Russia investigation were also included in the memos. Comey recounted in his March 30 memo that Trump said he thought he would have won a Obamacare repeal vote if not for the cloud over Russia.

In the same conversation, Trump also suggested he would sue Christopher Steele, the British ex-intelligence officer who wrote the dossier, although he never did so.

The memos provide more detail about Comey's conversations with Trump regarding the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server. As he recounted in his book, Comey writes that Trump referenced "Comey One, Comey Two and Comey Three" when talking about different developments in the investigation during the campaign.

Comey also recounts how he criticized Trump over his answer during the campaign where Trump suggested the US was as guilty as Russia when it came to killings.

"'You think my answer was good, right?' I said the answer was fine. Except the part about the killers, because we aren't the kind of killers that Putin is," Comey wrote in the February 8 memo. "When I said this, the President paused noticeably. I don't know what to make of it, but he clearly noticed I had directly criticized him."

Provided to Congress

The Justice Department sent the redacted version of the memos on Thursday after three Republican House chairmen -- Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy and Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes -- demanded last week they be provided to Congress.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a response Monday that some lawmakers had already been given access last year. But after Goodlatte threatened to issue a subpoena, DOJ relented, citing "unusual events occurring since the previous limited disclosure."

The unredacted, classified version of the memos will be made available to Congress to view in a secure setting on Friday, DOJ said.

In a joint statement, Goodlatte, Gowdy and Nunes said the memos "lay bare the notion that former Director Comey is not motivated by animus." The memos show that the "cloud" Trump told Comey he wanted lifted referred to the salacious and unproven allegations in the opposition research dossier, they say.

"As we have consistently said, rather than making a criminal case for obstruction or interference with an ongoing investigation, these memos would be Defense Exhibit A should such a charge be made," the chairmen said.

But Democrats see it differently. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said in a statement that the memos show that "Trump's interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and Director Comey was right to document it as it happened -- in real time."

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the date on which two conversations about Michael Flynn and Putin occurred. The exchange happened January 27, and Comey wrote his memo the next day.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 23531

Reported Deaths: 1006
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7932593
Ramsey2790115
Stearns200113
Nobles15034
Anoka132467
Dakota123051
Washington59831
Olmsted59410
Kandiyohi4861
Rice4382
Clay42025
Scott3942
Todd3020
Wright2871
Mower2541
Sherburne2262
Carver2012
Benton1753
Steele1510
Blue Earth1371
Martin1295
St. Louis11814
Freeborn1080
Pine890
Nicollet839
Winona7915
Carlton730
Cottonwood690
Watonwan690
Unassigned6610
Crow Wing641
Otter Tail630
Goodhue623
Chisago601
Polk602
Itasca549
Dodge500
Chippewa491
Morrison450
Meeker440
Le Sueur441
Lyon430
Douglas400
Jackson390
Murray370
Becker360
McLeod330
Isanti320
Waseca260
Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Swift180
Fillmore171
Wabasha170
Pennington170
Sibley160
Faribault150
Beltrami140
Brown142
Cass132
Norman120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Marshall100
Pipestone100
Pope90
Wadena80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Redwood40
Grant40
Big Stone40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Stevens20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18929

Reported Deaths: 524
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4056123
Woodbury272134
Black Hawk173044
Linn94576
Marshall89116
Dallas88620
Buena Vista7210
Johnson6108
Wapello5568
Muscatine55441
Crawford5012
Tama40127
Scott35710
Louisa34111
Dubuque34118
Jasper26016
Pottawattamie2448
Sioux2140
Washington1878
Wright1530
Plymouth1272
Warren1210
Allamakee1204
Story1051
Mahaska929
Poweshiek898
Henry701
Bremer696
Des Moines621
Clinton601
Boone580
Taylor510
Clarke500
Guthrie503
Cedar461
Benton401
Monroe385
Webster371
Jones360
Shelby350
Iowa340
Clayton333
Marion320
Buchanan320
Osceola320
Hamilton300
Cerro Gordo271
Cherokee270
Madison271
Fayette260
Lee250
Monona240
Winneshiek230
Harrison210
Jefferson210
Lyon200
Grundy200
Davis200
Dickinson190
Floyd191
Sac180
Humboldt160
Hardin160
Mills160
Hancock160
Delaware150
Butler150
Appanoose143
Keokuk140
Ida140
Emmet130
Greene130
Lucas130
Clay130
Jackson120
Audubon121
Cass120
Franklin120
Howard120
Winnebago110
Pocahontas110
Page110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth90
Van Buren90
Carroll90
Adair90
Union70
Adams70
Montgomery60
Palo Alto60
Mitchell50
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Mason City
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 59°
Albert Lea
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 57°
Austin
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 57°
Charles City
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 57°
Sunnier skies for the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Governor Walz GivesUpdate

Image

Gov. Walz Addresses Minnesotans in Overnight Press Conference

Image

Riots, Fires continue in Minneapolis

Image

Protesters in Downtown Rochester

Image

Mower County Fair will go on as planned

Image

Minneapolis Gas Stations Shut Down

Image

NAACP Leader speaks on death of George Floyd

Image

Law Enforcement training to prevent tragedy

Image

Century High School graduation

Image

Sean Weather 5/29

Community Events