The FBI’s top officials hid Russia probe evidence fearing it might be destroyed by Donald Trump, a new book revealed Friday.
They secreted copies of memos by James Comey about his dealings with the president in the bureau’s computer system and at locations across the country after Trump fired the FBI director, the book – in an extract published Friday by CNN -revealed.
Comey wrote the memos and sent them to the FBI’s senior leadership because of his concerns about the president’s conduct.
The Comey memos were central to any future investigation because they revealed Trump asking the then-FBI director to drop the probe into Mike Flynn, the fired national security advisor, and asking for ‘loyalty’ from the nation’s top cop.
‘I hope you can let this go,’ Comey revealed that Trump said to him about Flynn, who was being investigated over whether he lied to the FBI about his calls with Russia’s ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.
But the book by CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin, True Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Investigation of Donald Trump,’ says that when Trump fired him on May 9 2017, there was panic about what would happen next.
Hours after Comey’s firing, the FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe, instructed the opening of an obstruction of justice investigation into Donald Trump, on top of the existing probe into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.
But Toobin discloses that McCabe feared Trump would order the closure of the Russia probe, including its focus on Flynn.
The memos, which have since been made public, also revealed what happened when Comey told Trump – then the president-elect – about the so-called golden showers dossier in a one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower.
McCabe ordered the Comey memos to be put on the FBI’s Sentinel evidence holding system, making it almost impossible for them to be removed from existence.
When it became clear within hours of the firing that an interim director was not going to be appointed, McCabe became acting director.
That led to further action on the memos, Toobin reports – with officials sending at least three copies to remote locations around the bureau as an insurance against the documents vanishing or being destroyed if Trump shut down the Russia probe and the obstruction of justice investigation.
Instead then deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein opened the special counsel investigation and appointed Robert Mueller.
Mueller took possession of the memos and they became a key part of his probe.
McCabe later reverted to deputy FBI director with the appointment of Chris Wray and was fired by then attorney general Jeff Sessions in a way which limited his pensions rights; he is now suing the Department of Justice and has written a book calling Trump a ‘threat.’
The controversy over the Russia probe continues however.
As well as Trump’s repeated claims it was a ‘witch hunt,’ Flynn remains a convicted criminal despite controversy over the case.
He pleaded guilty in a plea bargain with Mueller to lying to the FBI, and agreed to co-operate.
But he reversed course, claiming he was the victim of an FBI plot to frame him and asked to vacate his plea.
AG Bill Barr ordered a review which concluded the FBI should never have been interviewing Flynn, and the DOJ has asked the judge in the case to allow the conviction to be dropped – prompting the most senior prosecutor to quit.
The judge denied the request and the case is next to be litigated in August.
Flynn in the meantime has ‘sworn’ allegiance to the QAnon conspiracy theory.