Thu, May 18, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Putin offers to give Congress notes of Trump’s meeting

COMEY’S NOTES:The White House was also reeling over revelations that the US president had asked the former FBI chief to end the Flynn probe

AP, WASHINGTON

A combo file picture made available yesterday shows US President Donald Trump, left, participating in a town hall meeting on the business climate in the US at the White House complex in Washington on April 4 and former FBI director James Comey testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 3.

Photo: EPA

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday offered to turn over to the US Congress records of US President Donald Trump’s discussions with Russian diplomats in which Trump is said to have disclosed classified information.

His offer added a bizarre twist to the furor over Trump’s intelligence disclosures.

Putin’s remarks come as Washington was reeling over revelations late on Tuesday that Trump personally appealed to former FBI director James Comey to abandon the bureau’s investigation into former US national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The White House issued a furious denial after Comey’s notes detailing Trump’s request.

The White House has played down the importance and secrecy of the information Trump gave to the Russians, which had been supplied by Israel under an intelligence-sharing agreement.

Trump himself said he had “an absolute right” as president to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia.

Yet US allies and some members of Congress expressed concern bordering on alarm.

Putin told a news conference that he would be willing to turn over notes of Trump’s meeting with the Russian diplomats if the White House agreed.

He dismissed outrage over Trump’s disclosures as US politicians whipping up “anti-Russian sentiment.”

Asked what he thinks of Trump’s presidency, Putin said it is up to the American people to judge, but his performance can only be rated “only when he’s allowed to work at full capacity,” implying that someone is hampering Trump’s efforts.

As for Comey, the former FBI director wrote in a memo after a February meeting at the White House that Trump had asked him to shut down the agency’s investigation of Flynn and his Russian contacts, said a person who had read the memo.

The Flynn investigation was part of a broader probe into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

Comey’s memo, an apparent effort to create a paper trail of his contacts with the White House, would be the clearest evidence to date that the president has tried to influence the investigation.

The existence of the memo was first reported by the New York Times.

US Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on Tuesday sent a letter to the FBI requesting that it turn over all documents and recordings that detail communications between Comey and Trump.

He said he would give the FBI a week and then “if we need a subpoena, we’ll do it.”

The panel’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings, called the allegation of Trump pressure on Comey “explosive,” and said “it appears like a textbook case of criminal obstruction of justice.”

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