A handful of Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly suspicious of the Trump administration over allegations that the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey was an effort to stymie a probe of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
The heightened GOP scrutiny of the Trump administration’s recent actions comes on the heels of a report from The New York Times suggesting that President Trump pressured Comey to halt efforts to investigate Flynn.
Following a meeting with the president, Comey wrote a memo detailing what he reportedly felt was an improper request from Trump.
According to the Times report, Comey kept notes about every interaction he had with the president because “Comey was so concerned about what Trump may try to do to the FBI.”
Following one such interaction, Trump reportedly told the FBI chief: “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.”
Until news of the Comey memos broke, Republicans mostly rejected the idea that a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the administration’s actions. Now, a growing number of GOP lawmakers are suggesting that the existence of such a memo would warrant a more thorough investigation.
The Times reported that it had not seen a copy of the Comey memo—but was given verbal reading of the document by a Comey “associate.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has sent a letter to the FBI demanding the memo at the center of the Times report as well as any related documents be delivered to his Oversight Committee no later than May 24.
He wrote: “According to [the New York Times], ‘Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president.’ If true, these memoranda raise questions as to whether the President attempted to influence or impede the FBI’s investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen Flynn. So the Committee can consider that question, and others, provide, no later than May 24, 2017, all memoranda, notes, summaries, and recording referring or relating to any communications between Comey and the President.
“The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principle oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at ‘any time’ investigate ‘any matter,’” the letter continued.
Chaffetz indicated via Twitter that failure to comply with his request will result in a subpoena.
Chaffetz’s move suggests that the Times report was the final straw that forced him into the unpopular position of leading a Republican Congress in investigating serious allegations against a Republican president. It’s a position, as I noted last month, the lawmaker has given every indication he wished to avoid.
More on that: Chaffetz is out… but why?
Chaffetz has scheduled a hearing for next week, asking the former FBI director to testify.
A similar hearing was just scheduled by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose office said in a statement: “It’s appropriate and timely for the Senate to hear directly from former Director James Comey in a public setting as part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s ongoing investigation.”
Depending on what comes out in those hearings and ongoing congressional investigations, the Trump administration could take some heavy fire from critics in the weeks and months ahead.
And there are at least a few Republicans who ecxpect things to turn out badly for the president.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said Wednesday if Congress finds the Comey memo allegations to be true, “it’s grounds for impeachment.”
Currently, Amash is one of about 10 GOP lawmakers in the House calling for an independent probe into the matter.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) said during a recent interview that a revelation that Trump pressured Comey in any way could indicate the president is guilty of obstruction of justice.
“Obstruction of justice in the case of Nixon, in the case of Clinton in the late 90s, has been considered an impeachable offense,” Curbelo said.
He added: “It may be something very serious, it may be nothing.”
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