House Oversight Chairman on NYT Report: ‘First of All, Let’s See If It’s True’

By Susan Jones | May 17, 2017 | 5:56 AM EDT

Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly wrote a memo detailing his February meeting with President Donald Trump. (Screen grab from video)

(CNSNews.com) – “Well, first of all, let’s see if it’s true,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Tuesday night after The New York Times reported that President Trump asked F.B.I. Director James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security director.

“I hope you can let this go,” President Trump reportedly told Comey, according to a memo written by Comey after the meeting in February.

“This is one where we can actually find out the truth behind it,” Chaffetz told Fox News Tuesday night. “If there are such memos, documentation, we would like to see that from the FBI.”

Chaffetz sent a letter to the FBI on Tuesday, giving the agency one week to produce any notes about Comey’s conversation with Trump. “If true, these memoranda raise questions as to whether the President attempted to influence or impede the FBI’s investigation as it relates to Lt.-Gen. Flynn,” he wrote.

Chaffetz said if needs to issue a subpoena, he will. “But I think they will cooperate,” he added.

“Let's see if the documentation is there, then we need to talk to the person who wrote those -- that would be Director Comey -- and get his take on it. Whether that is a public hearing or we talk behind the scenes, I'm not quite sure yet. But we are going to let the facts take us where they are. And the first step is finding out if it's true, that there truly are these memos.”

According to the New York Times:

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo.

It was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Chaffetz said on Tuesday that if Comey perceived “undue influence” from the president of the United States, he had a number of options. He could have talked to the Oversight Committee as well as the House Judiciary, House intelligence, and/or Senate intelligence committees. Or he could have made the conversation public.

Chaffetz told Fox News it is too early in the investigation to go for an independent approach, “because I don't that think those would truly be quote-unquote ‘independent.’ The system we have in place has worked for a couple hundred years, and I think we need to give it a shot.”

Chaffetz also praised the Democrats’ “newfound commitment” to “transparency and accountability.”

“They certainly didn't help us at all over the last eight years in some very serious matters where there was criminal wrongdoing, where there were people that were literally killed. I didn't see them coming to the table with such veracity and such commitment that I see now.

“At the same time, I do think that the white house could have handled some of these situations much better. And I would hope they could actually learn from some of these key mistakes and inconsistencies, which lead to this narrative that we’re not getting the full truth.”