President Donald Trump fumed at former national security adviser Michael Flynn over a delayed return call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, secret memos written by James Comey reveal.
Trump’s displeasure with Flynn was revealed in memos written by Comey detailing his conversations with Trump.
The identity of the foreign leader, with whom Trump spoke on January 28, 2017, was blacked out in the copies of the memos sent to Capitol Hill on Thursday. Sources said it was Putin.
Comey recounts how Trump at a private White House dinner pointed his fingers at his head and complained that Flynn ‘has serious judgment issues’.
He then blamed Flynn for a delay in returning the congratulatory call of an international leader – who is now revealed to be Putin.
‘I did not comment at any point during this topic and there was no mention or acknowledgement of any FBI interest in or contact with General Flynn,’ Mr Comey wrote.
First to call: Vladimir Putin was revealed to have been the first world leader to make contact with Trump after his inauguration – but only because Mike Flynn blurted it out in front of Theresa May when Trump toasted the British prime minister at the White House
Judgment problem: Mike Flynn – who now has a felony conviction for lying to the FBI – was slammed by Trump in a private dinner with Comey hours after he humiliated the new president in front of Theresa May
Special relationship: James Comey’s memos lay bate a humiliating episode at the White House lunch Trump held for Theresa May
The disclosure in the leaked Comey memos casts new light on the days immediately after the inauguration and reveals how Flynn humiliated Trump in front of another world leader days after taking office.
Comey’s dinner with Trump took place on Friday January 27, hours after May had become met him at the White House.
Trump told Comey that he had toasted May over lunch as the first world leader to call him after his inauguration.
‘Apparently, at the President was toasting PM May, he was explaining that she had been the first to call him after his inauguration and interrupted to say that REDACTED had called (first apparently),’ Comey wrote.
‘It was then that the President learned of REDCATED call and he confronted Flynn about it (not clear whether that was in the moment or after the lunch with PM May).’
Flynn told him the return call was scheduled for Saturday – six days after Putin had called, ‘ which prompted a heated reply from the President that six days was not appropriate period of time to return a call from the REDACTED of a country like REDACTED’
‘This isn’t REDACTED we are talking about,’ Trump told Comey.
‘He said that if he called REDACTED and didn’t get a return call for six days he would be very upset,’ Comey wrote.
‘In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said “the guy has serious judgment issues”.’
Comey’s now-released memos cast a new – and unflattering – light on the first days of the Trump presidency
Flynn was out within a month, with the official reason for his firing being given as lying to Mike Pence about his contact with Russia.
Trump defended Flynn Friday following the leak of the memos.
The president has complained that Comey, whom he canned 11 months ago, has lied about their interactions in order to build public demand for sales of his new memoir, while Flynn’s lies could land him in prison.
‘So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey [sic] James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written),’ he tweeted Friday.
‘Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!’
Still, Comey claims, the president asked him to drop the Bureau’s investigation of Flynn, saying he was a ‘good man’ being needlessly targeted.
Ironically, Trump’s recounting of his humiliation in front of May by Flynn is not included in Comey’s book.
Trump fired Flynn three months before he sent Comey packing, following revelations that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Russia’s then-Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions.
The president blamed Flynn for failing to alert him promptly to a congratulatory call from a world leader, causing a delay for Trump in returning a message to an official whose name is redacted in the documents.
The memos reveal that days before Flynn’s firing, then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked Comey if Flynn’s communications were being monitored under a secret surveillance warrant.
‘Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?’ Priebus asked Comey, according to the memos, referring to an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Comey said he ‘paused for a few seconds and then said that I would answer here, but that this illustrated the kind of question that had to be asked and answered through established channels.’
Comey’s response is redacted on the unclassified memos.
Trump repeatedly complained to FBI director James Comey in early 2017 that the Russia meddling investigation was a cloud over his young administration, weeks before firing him, leaked memorandums showed Thursday.
Trump ‘said he was trying to run the country and the cloud of this Russia business was making that difficult,’ Comey wrote in a memo on a conversation they had on March 30, 2017.
Flynn is a convicted felon after admitting lying to the FBI in a plea deal with Robert Mueller, the special counsel, which had made him a target of investigation. His lies were actually before the Mueller probe began.
Flynn – who had been fired by President Barack Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and retired as a three-star Army general – was said to have done the deal partly to protect his son, Mike Flynn Jr, and partly because of a lack of cash to defend himself.
Politico reported Friday that he is slowly making a come back in Republican politics.