The Slatest

Trump Asked Top Intelligence Official to Intervene with Comey, Who Asked Not to Be Alone With Trump

Donald Trump arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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As the days tick down to former-FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, we’re learning more about everything really, but in particular the lengths President Trump went to in order to subvert the FBI investigation into his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia, particularly the probe into then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. There were a number of bombshells Tuesday evening. Here’s what we learned from two of the biggest.

Comey told Attorney General Sessions he didn’t want to be in the room alone with Trump.

Following a February meeting between Comey and Trump, where the president asked the FBI director to lay off Michael Flynn, the New York Times reports Comey was sufficiently irked by the interaction that he sought out the attorney general and asked Sessions to help make sure he would not be left alone with Trump again because he deemed it inappropriate. Officials told the Times “Mr. Comey’s unwillingness to be alone with the president reflected how deeply Mr. Comey distrusted Mr. Trump, who Mr. Comey believed was trying to undermine the F.B.I.’s independence as it conducted a highly sensitive investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.”

Despite Comey’s apparent belief that Trump was trying to sandbag his investigation, early reports indicate Comey will not accuse the president of obstruction of justice when he testifies on Thursday. Comey reportedly will, however, testify that he did not tell Trump he was not the subject of the investigation, as the president has said publicly many times.

Trump asked the director of national intelligence to intervene in the FBI’s Flynn investigation.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that, in March, Trump asked newly confirmed director of national intelligence Daniel Coats if he could intervene in the FBI investigation into Mike Flynn. The request by Trump, after less than a week on the job for Coats, came after a briefing at the White House. After conferring with colleagues, Coats declined the president’s request. The president then followed up a day or two later with a phone call to Coats asking him to issue a public statement that there was no evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russians. Coats again declined. Trump also asked the head of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers, who also rebuffed the president’s request to make a public statement.

Both Coats and Comey will testify this week before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Look out for some strongly worded, against-the-advice-of-counsel tweets from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.!