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Trump denies asking FBI to drop Flynn probe

Donald Trump and Michael Flynn speak at a rally in Colorado in October
Getty/AFP/File
Earlier tweet shrugging off Flynn guilty plea caused stir by appearing to suggest Trump knew he lied to FBI

US President Donald Trump denied Sunday having asked then FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about discussions with Russia.

"I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!", Trump said in a tweet, referring to former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired in May.


An earlier tweet by Trump shrugging off Flynn's guilty plea caused a stir by appearing to suggest that Trump knew that Flynn had lied to Comey's agency.

"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!" Trump tweeted Saturday.


Nicholas Kamm, MANDEL NGAN (AFP/Archives)

At the time of Flynn's dismissal, the White House acknowledged only that Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence -- not to the FBI, too -- about Flynn's discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak over sanctions imposed by then-president Barack Obama against Russia for meddling in the election.

White House officials, however, told The New York Times that Trump was only referencing Flynn's guilty plea, and two people briefed on the matter said the Twitter post was in fact written by Trump's personal lawyer John Dowd, who apologized to the White House for the tactless language.

Trump continued to insist on Sunday that he and his campaign had not colluded with Moscow in last year's election, and shifted blame on the Justice Department and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

"After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness," Trump tweeted.


CHIP SOMODEVILLA (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File)

Trump's ties with Flynn have been under intense scrutiny since Comey was fired and testified under oath before a Senate panel in June that a day after Flynn's firing, Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation into the former national security director.

A lingering part of the drama has been that after the White House learned through the Justice Department that Flynn lied to the White House about discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Trump still waited 18 days to fire him.

Trump said he had the Russia probe in mind when he fired Comey. The move backfired and led the Justice Department to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel.

Mueller's focus goes beyond possible collusion with Russia to business dealings and whether Trump himself tried to thwart the investigation.

US media reported that senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok was removed from the investigation over the summer for sending text messages critical of Trump.

Trump retweeted a post from conservative commentator Paul Sperry about the news that highlighted the fact that Strzok had also worked on the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state.

Trump also retweeted another damaging Sperry post critical of Strzok's boss, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Earlier, Trump renewed focus on the Justice Department's handling of the Clinton probe.

MANDEL NGAN (AFP)

"So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday 'interrogation' with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times...and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?" he wrote.

"Many people in our Country are asking what the 'Justice' Department is going to do about the fact that totally Crooked Hillary, AFTER receiving a subpoena from the United States Congress, deleted and 'acid washed' 33,000 Emails? No justice!"



As he left for a day trip to New York on Saturday, Trump again insisted his team had not plotted with Moscow to sway the election in his favor over Clinton, who won the popular vote but lost the all-important electoral college count.

"What has been shown is no collusion. There's been absolutely no collusion. So we're very happy," Trump said.

Comey himself seemed to be addressing the latest developments in an Instagram message: "To paraphrase the Buddha -- Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun; the moon; and the truth."

(Staff with AFP)

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