There is fight in them yet! On Tuesday evening, The New York Times landed the latest in a series of scoops by legacy news media organizations that together, threaten to derail Donald Trump’s presidency after just a few months in office.
In the most recent revelation, the NYT was the first to report the existence of personal notes and memos written by former FBI director James Comey, summarizing his conversations with Trump before his surprise firing by the latter on May 9.
In one memo Comey claims Trump asked him to wave off the investigation into his former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his links to Russia, telling him: “I hope you can let this go.”
The NYT scoop on May 16 came just a few days after a stunning exclusive interview with President Trump by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt. In it, Trump admitted having asked Comey whether he himself were under investigation concerning alleged ties to Russia.
Taken together, the reporting by NBC News and the NYT raise the possibility that Trump fired Comey in order to prevent him from investigating connections between administration officials and Russia – potentially opening the Oval Office to charges of obstruction of justice.
The Washington Post kicked off the debacle in late February, with the original report that got Flynn fired. According to multiple reports, Flynn was fired at the behest of Vice President Mike Pence, who was outraged that Flynn hadn’t been forthright in disclosing the nature of his discussions with Russia’s ambassador before Trump’s inauguration, allegedly touching on Washington’s current sanctions against Moscow.
Pence apparently learned about Flynn’s failure to come clean from an article published by WaPo on February 9, 2017, titled “National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say.” It detailed that several other key members of the administration were already aware of the true nature of Flynn’s conversations.
While it’s too soon to know what the legal and political ramifications of the latest revelations will be, they represent a fresh complication for the White House. Trump wants to regain control of the narrative amid other controversies, such as Trump’s sharing of classified intelligence with Russian officials.