Trump faces es­ca­lat­ing cri­sis af­ter Congress de­mands Comey memo

Ex- FBI chief ’s note claims pres­i­dent sought to halt Rus­sia probe Tur­moil hits mar­kets

Financial Times USA - - FRONT PAGE - DEMETRI SEVASTOPULO — WASH­ING­TON

Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion faced mount­ing de­mands from Congress to hand over key ev­i­dence of claims that he sought to halt in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­leged links be­tween his elec­tion cam­paign and Rus­sia as the cri­sis fac­ing his pres­i­dency es­ca­lated yes­ter­day.

The Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee and House over­sight com­mit­tee sep­a­rately asked the FBI to pro­duce a memo by James Comey which the ousted agency head wrote fol­low­ing a pri­vate meet­ing with Mr Trump.

The Se­nate jus­tice com­mit­tee asked the White House to pro­duce any in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing au­dio record­ings, re­lated to com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween Mr Comey and the pres­i­dent. Af­ter Mr Trump fired Mr Comey, he tweeted: “James Comey bet­ter hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our con­ver­sa­tions be­fore he starts leak­ing to the press!”

The sug­ges­tion that Mr Trump may have ob­structed jus­tice by putting pres­sure on the FBI has trig­gered the most se­ri­ous threat to his pres­i­dency.

Stock mar­kets slid in re­sponse as in­vestors piled into haven as­sets. The bench­mark S&P 500 was at one point poised for its big­gest daily loss since the elec­tion, be­fore re­bound­ing off its lows to trade 1.1 per cent lower. The dol­lar was hit with fresh sell­ing pres­sures and fell to its low­est level since Mr Trump won the vote in Novem­ber last year.

By con­trast, gold and the 10-year US Trea­sury ral­lied.

Mr Trump hit back in a speech to US Coast Guard cadets. “Look at the way I have been treated lately, es­pe­cially by the me­dia,” he com­plained. “No politi­cian in his­tory has been treated worse or more un­fairly.”

As part of a broad in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the FBI is ex­am­in­ing con­nec­tions be­tween Trump cam­paign aides, in­clud­ing Michael Flynn, for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, and Rus­sian of­fi­cials. Ac­cord­ing to a memo writ­ten by Mr Comey, Mr Trump asked him to stop in­ves­ti­gat­ing Mr Flynn, who was fired the pre­vi­ous day.

Mr Trump fired Mr Comey last week, say­ing his de­ci­sion was based partly on his view that the “Rus­sia thing” was a po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Democrats have pounced on the memo as ev­i­dence of the need for an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, while some Repub­li­cans have felt com­pelled to take a tougher stance on the White House.

John McCain, the Ari­zona se­na­tor, said the scan­dals en­gulf­ing Mr Trump were near­ing “Water­gate size and scale”, in a ref­er­ence to the is­sue that top­pled Richard Nixon. Ja­son Chaf­fetz, Repub­li­can chair­man of the House over­sight com­mit­tee, sug­gested he would force the FBI to hand over any doc­u­ments. “I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my sub­poena pen ready,” he said.

July 5 2016 James Comey, FBI chief, rec­om­mends the jus­tice de­part­ment does not bring charges against Hil­lary Clin­ton, the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, over her use of a pri­vate email server.

Oct 28 The FBI announces that it is open­ing a probe into Mrs Clin­ton’s emails, fol­low­ing an un­re­lated probe into An­thony Weiner, a for­mer con­gress­man and es­tranged hus­band of a Clin­ton aide, Huma Abe­din.

Nov 6 Mr Comey reaf­firms his pre­vi­ous de­ci­sion that no charges be brought against Mrs Clin­ton.

Dec 11 Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at­tacks a CIA re­port that Rus­sia hacked Demo­cratic party servers to help se­cure his elec­tion win.

Feb 14 2017 Michael Flynn re­signs as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser af­ter ad­mit­ting he mis­led Mike Pence, vice-pres­i­dent, over his Rus­sian con­tacts.

Feb 17 Mr Trump crit­i­cises re­ports that his cam­paign team was in con­tact with Rus­sia dur­ing the cam­paign.

May 3 Mr Comey says he feels “mildly nau­seous” at the thought he could have in­flu­enced the out­come of the elec­tion.

May 9 Mr Comey is fired. A let­ter from the pres­i­dent says he was dis­missed on the ad­vice of the jus­tice de­part­ment over his han­dling of the Clin­ton case.

May 11 Mr Trump says he would have fired Mr Comey “re­gard­less” of the jus­tice de­part­ment’s ad­vice.

May 13 Mr Trump ap­pears to threaten Mr Comey with re­lease of tapes of their pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.

May 15 The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ports that Mr Trump shared clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion with Rus­sia’s for­eign min­is­ter in a White House meet­ing.

May 16 Mr Trump tweets that he has an “ab­so­lute right” to give Rus­sians in­for­ma­tion for coun­tert­er­ror­ism pur­poses. The New York Times re­ports that Mr Trump asked Mr Comey in Fe­bru­ary to halt the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mr Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” the pres­i­dent told Mr Comey.

The FBI is ex­am­in­ing con­nec­tions be­tween sev­eral Trump cam­paign aides and Rus­sian of­fi­cials

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.