President Trump asked the FBI to drop its investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and urged the FBI director James B. Comey instead to pursue reporters in leak investigations, according to private notes taken by Comey, according to people familiar with the matter.
According to a set of notes written by Comey following a February meeting with the president, Trump brought up the counterintelligence investigation into Flynn and urged Comey to drop the probe in the wake of the national security adviser’s resignation.
“I hope you can let this go,’’ Trump said, according to the Comey notes, which were described by associates. Comey’s written account of the meeting is two pages long and highly detailed, the associates said….people close to the matter said Comey kept detailed notes of his multiple conversations with Trump.
Detailed notes? All the more reason that Comey must testify publicly, where he’d also be asked about reports that Trump demanded a loyalty pledge from him, which is the other big allegation of Trumpian interference with ongoing law enforcement inquiries. — gs
* Politico reporter Rachael Bade audaciously asked GOP Rep. Darrell Issa for a response to the news of the Comey memo:
Good to see House Republicans taking the rule of law so seriously. — gs
A growing number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are calling on President Trump to hand over the transcript of the White House meeting last week in which he revealed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Members of Congress — primarily Democrats — have spent several days demanding that Trump turn over tapes of White House meetings after he suggested, while defending his decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey, that he records his conversations.
But the calls intensified Tuesday morning after Trump seemed to acknowledge on Twitter that he had shared sensitive information during his meeting with the Russians.
Just imagine what a field day Democrats would be having if they had subpoena power.
* Adam Goldman, Matthew Rosenberg, Matt Apuzzo, and Eric Schmitt report that a great big “Mazel Tov!” goes out to Israel for learning what happens when you give sensitive intelligence information to the United States these days:
The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel, according to a current and a former American official familiar with how the United States obtained the information. The revelation adds a potential diplomatic complication to the episode.
Israel is one of the United States’ most important allies and a major intelligence collector in the Middle East. The revelation that Mr. Trump boasted about some of Israel’s most sensitive information to the Russians could damage the relationship between the two countries. It also raises the possibility that the information could be passed to Iran, Russia’s close ally and Israel’s main threat in the Middle East.
Back in January, departing Obama administration officials warned their Israeli counterparts to be careful about what they told Trump, since he might pass information on to the Russians. And what do you know, they were right.
* Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report that spirits in the finely tuned machine that is the Trump White House couldn’t be higher:
There is a fear among some of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers about leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn. General McMaster, in particular, has tried to insert caveats or gentle corrections into conversations when he believes the president is straying off topic or onto boggy diplomatic ground.
This has, at times, chafed the president, according to two officials with knowledge of the situation. Mr. Trump, who still openly laments having to dismiss his first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has groused that General McMaster talks too much in meetings, and the president has referred to him as “a pain,” according to one of the officials.
In private, three administration officials conceded that they could not publicly articulate their most compelling — and honest — defense of the president: that Mr. Trump, a hasty and indifferent reader of printed briefing materials, simply did not possess the interest or knowledge of the granular details of intelligence gathering to leak specific sources and methods of intelligence gathering that would do harm to United States allies.
Perhaps the time has come to go full Truman Show on the president: build a replica White House and have him live in it, with a group of actors whose job it is to convince him that he’s still the president, while someone else takes over to prevent a global cataclysm.
* A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Democrats with an 11-point lead in the generic ballot for Congress, and the Republican health care plan garnering the support of an impressive 25 percent of voters.
* Robert Barnes reports that despite Mitch McConnell’s trolling suggestion that Trump should appoint Merrick Garland to be FBI director (thereby opening up Garland’s seat on the court of appeals for Trump to fill), Garland is not interested in the job.
Apparently appearing on Fox is the primary qualification for any position in the administration. Perhaps when McMaster resigns, we can get National Security Adviser Steve Doocy.