Reports that former FBI Director James Comey says President Donald Trump asked him to back off the investigation into ex-national security advisor Michael Flynn marked the latest twist in chaotic recent days at the White House.
Here are the big developments of the last week, which started with the abrupt firing of Comey:
- The FBI and Congress are investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, including any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The U.S. intelligence community — including the FBI,
CIAand NSA — has concluded that Russia meddled in the election.
- May 9: Trump fires the FBI's chief. White House spokespeople immediately say that Trump's decision had nothing to do with Russia, but instead that the president dismissed Comey because the Justice Department had criticized him.
- May 10: Trump holds a closed-door meeting with the Russian foreign minister and Moscow's ambassador to the U.S. at the White House. American news media are not invited to the meeting, but a Kremlin-friendly news agency from Russia is present.
- May 11: Trump directly contradicts his own spokespeople, telling NBC News that he would have fired Comey "regardless" of what the Justice Department said. Trump adds that he was considering "this Russia thing" when he ousted the FBI director.
- May 15: The Washington Post reports that Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russians in the closed-door meeting. Other news outlets including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times confirm the report.
- May 15: The White House says the Post report is false, without specifying which parts are incorrect. "I was there. He didn't do it," says national security advisor H.R. McMaster, who refuses to take questions.
- May 16: Trump says on Twitter that he did give the Russians information for counterterrorism purposes, noting that he has the "absolute right" to do so. He neither confirms nor denies whether the information he revealed was classified.
- May 16: Reports indicate that a memo Comey wrote in February shows that the president asked him to shut down the FBI investigation into Flynn. The story is first reported by The New York Times and confirmed by NBC News, The Wall Street
Journaland others. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, demands that the FBI turn over records related to Trump's conversations with Comey, saying the reports "raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede the FBI's investigation."