Trump asked Comey to shut down Flynn investigation

Mr Comey was sacked by the President last week. Times reporter Michael Schmidt told MSNBC that Trump "kicked everybody else out of the room" - including Vice President Mike Pence - and made the request one on one.

"If his objective was to see that Flynn got a square deal then I think that's entirely appropriate", Franks said.

The New York Times cited a memo Mr Comey wrote following his meeting in the Oval Office with Mr Trump on 14 February - a day after Mr Flynn stepped down. "The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations".

The White House issued an immediate denial, saying the report is "not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr Comey".

The Times reported that, according a Comey associate, Trump then spoke to Comey and said Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.

Flynn was asked to resign after less than a month on the job - and just days before the meeting outlined in Comey's memo.

"If true, these memoranda raise questions as to whether the President attempoted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation as it relates to Lt. Gen. Flynn", the letter, obtained by NBC News, reads.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

There is no sign the FBI's Russian Federation investigation is closing. Comey and his aides perceived Trump's comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret - even from the FBI agents working on the Russian Federation investigation - so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation. On Tuesday, people close to the matter said Comey kept detailed notes of his multiple conversations with Trump. But the White House has provided differing accounts of the firing. In 2007, years before his appointment as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, he recounted to a rapt congressional audience a dramatic hospital room clash three years earlier with fellow Bush administration officials over the approval of a domestic surveillance program.

Mark Warner of Virginia, top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said he would ask Comey for additional material as part of that panel's investigation. "We need an independent special prosecutor NOW".

After the meeting, Comey's associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Trump's statements.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer did not confirm the intelligence came from his country, but said in a statement that Israel "has full confidence in our intelligence sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump". On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.

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