One by one this winter, then-FBI Director James B. Comey pulled aside three of the bureau's top officials for private chats. In calm tones, he told each of them about a private Oval Office meeting with President Trump — during which, Comey alleged, the president pressed him to shut down the federal criminal investigation of Trump's then-national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Those three officials, according to two people with detailed, firsthand knowledge of the matter, were Jim Rybicki, Comey's chief of staff and senior counselor; James Baker, the FBI's general counsel; and Andrew McCabe, then the bureau's deputy director, and now the acting director, following Trump's firing of Comey last month. Comey spoke to them within two days of his Oval conversation with Trump, the sources said, and recounted the president's comments about the Flynn investigation.
The White House and Trump have categorically denied Comey's account, which Comey reportedly detailed in his own notes shortly after his encounter with Trump. Thus far, the allegation has played as a he-said, she-said between the president and the director he abruptly removed.
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That no longer appears to be the case — it will be Trump's word versus the word of Comey and at least three other leaders of the FBI.
The FBI officials, identified here for the first time, could now emerge as corroborating witnesses for Comey's story, both in the public debate and in the criminal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. (Other outlets have revealed Comey discussed the encounter with FBI colleagues, but have not identified the officials in question.)