In newly released copies of memos written by James Comey, the former FBI director describes what he says were Donald Trump‘s strenuous and repeated objections to claims that prostitutes visited his Moscow hotel room in 2013 as well as the president’s “serious reservations” about his embattled national security adviser.
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“There were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes,” Comey recalled Trump saying in one of the memos.
ABC News obtained copies of the memos, which are partially redacted, on Thursday after the Justice Department turned over 15 pages of declassified material to Congress. Top House Republicans had requested the documents and threatened to subpoena for them. DOJ plans to transmit unredacted copies of the memos on Friday.
The memos, which emerged as a flashpoint in the ongoing Trump-Russia probe, detail Comey’s recollections of exchanges with the president about Russian campaign interference and the broader Russia investigation. They include notes of conversations about the Trump Tower briefing on the Russia allegations, on a private White House dinner, and on controversial meetings during which Comey says Trump asked for his loyalty and for him to end the Flynn investigation. Trump has denied making those requests.
Flynn’s lawyer declined to comment for this story.
Some of Comey’s notes closely mirror the account of the interactions with Trump he has provided in congressional testimony, in his new book and in recent television interviews. But the newly released memos also feature previously unreported details and exchanges, including Trump’s complaints about retired Gen. Michael Flynn’s judgment. He expressed concern that Flynn, who served briefly as his national security adviser, did not alert him about a congratulatory call from a head of state whose name is redacted in the memo released Thursday. A knowledgeable source confirmed to ABC News it was Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Comey said Trump pointed to his head when describing Flynn, and said, “The guy has serious judgment issues.”
“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,” Comey wrote.
In a meeting several days later, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus asked Comey, “Do you have a FISA order on Michael Flynn?” according to Comey’s memo. Comey said he responded to Priebus and explained how Priebus should ask similar questions in the future through established White House-Justice Department channels.
The question from Priebus came after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned the White House that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail regarding his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
Flynn later became one of the most senior Trump aides to cut a deal with prosecutors and agree to assist in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into meddling in the 2016 election. He pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment late Thursday.
Other memos from Comey shed light on Trump’s reactions to allegations, some of them salacious, in the so-called dossier — an unverified, opposition-research document prepared by a former British intelligence officer, and paid for by Trump’s political rivals.
One memo describes a meeting in which Comey says Trump remarked that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told him that Russia has “some of the most beautiful hookers in the world,” without explaining when the conversation took place, according to Comey’s notes.
In a joint statement, Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the chairmen who requested declassified versions of the memos last week, described the documents as “Defense Exhibit A” in a criminal case for obstruction of justice, arguing that they show Comey was motivated by animus, and did not feel that Trump was attempting to obstruct the Russia investigation in real time.
“While former Director Comey went to great lengths to set dining room scenes, discuss height requirements, describe the multiple times he felt complimented, and myriad other extraneous facts, he never once mentioned the most relevant fact of all, which was whether he felt obstructed in his investigation,” they wrote.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said the memos are “strong corroborating evidence” of Comey’s claims that Trump “wanted his personal loyalty, that he wanted to end the Russia investigation, and that he wanted Michael Flynn to walk.”
“President Trump’s interference was a blatant effort to deny justice, and Director Comey was right to document it as it happened — in real time,” Cummings said.
Comey said in a CNN interview Thursday he was “fine” with his memos being released to the public.
Trump again lashed out at Comey on Twitter late Friday night. The president said Comey illegally leaked documents to the press and that the special counsel’s investigation was “based on an illegal act.” He also spelled “counsel” wrong twice in the tweet.