Former FBI Director James Comey will be pressed to answer whether President Donald Trump tried to get him to stop an investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, key US senators said on Sunday ahead of Comey’s testimony this week, Reuters reports.
Comey was fired by Trump last month, four years into his 10-year term, with the move igniting accusations that Trump dismissed Comey to hinder that investigation about possible collaboration between his campaign and Russia.
“I want to know what kind of pressure – appropriate, inappropriate – how many conversations he had with the president about this topic?” Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program on Sunday.
Ex FBI chief is due to testify on Thursday before the intelligence committee as part of its own Russia-related investigation. Following, Comey’s dismissal, reports emerged that Trump asked Comey to end the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn during a February meeting in the Oval Office, the day after Flynn was fired for misrepresenting his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
The account, first reported by the New York Times, was based on a memo Comey wrote after the meeting. This memo caused alarm on Capitol Hill and raised questions about whether Trump tried to interfere with a federal investigation.
“It would be unthinkable if the president actually did what was reported, asked FBI Director Comey to, in effect, back off of at least the investigation into General Flynn”, Senator Warner said.
“The potential for explosive testimony from Comey that could impact a sitting president makes Thursday’s hearing a highly anticipated event, akin to the hearings in the 1970s examining the Watergate scandal”, Linda Peek-Schacht, a political adviser who worked in President Jimmy Carter’s White House said.
US intelligence agencies concluded in January that Moscow tried to sway the November vote in Trump’s favor. Russia has denied involvement, and Trump has denied any collaboration between his campaign and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview that he does not have any relationship with Flynn and that he only spoke briefly with Flynn when he sat next to him at a 2015 dinner for Russian TV network RT.