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Trump defends Michael Flynn after Comey memo revelations

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington on Dec. 1, 2017. Credit: AP / Susan Walsh

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday defended his former national security adviser Michael Flynn after newly released memos by fired FBI Director James Comey said that early in his presidency Trump questioned Flynn’s judgment.

Trump fired Flynn in February 2017 for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about conversations Flynn had with the Russian ambassador.

“So General Michael Flynn’s life can be totally destroyed while Shadey [sic] James Comey can Leak and Lie and make lots of money from a third rate book (that should never have been written),” Trump tweeted. “Is that really the way life in America is supposed to work? I don’t think so!”

In one of the seven memos that the Justice Department released to House committees Thursday evening, Comey described how at a private dinner with the president in January 2017 Trump spoke about Flynn and pointed his fingers at his head.

“The guy has serious judgment issues,” Trump said, according to the Comey memo, because Flynn hadn’t told the president about a phone call from a foreign leader.

People familiar with the matter say that the call was from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was the first foreign leader to call the White House to congratulate Trump after his inauguration, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The call wasn’t brought to Trump’s attention until he was in the middle of a lunch with British Prime Minister Theresa May and was thanking her for being the first to call him, the report said.

Flynn said it was Putin, not May, who called first and Trump was expected to return Putin’s call soon, the people said, according to the report. Trump was furious, Comey’s memo said, “because six days was not an appropriate period of time to return a call.”

Meanwhile, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Putin had ever told Trump that in Russia, “we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world,” as Comey had said in a memo and his book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” which was published Tuesday.

Peskov told CNN that “President Putin could never say such things, and he did not say anything like that to Trump, especially since they had never spoken to one another prior to Trump becoming president.”

Comey said he wrote the memos because he found Trump so unnerving that he decided he should document them in writing to defend himself and the FBI.

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, with the White House at first saying it was because of Comey’s unconventional announcements about the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Later Trump told an interviewer he had the FBI Russia investigation under Comey in mind when he made his decision.

Comey revealed much of the material in those memos when he testified before Congress. He is now on a book tour in which he has questioned the character of Trump, who, he said, is “morally unfit” to be president.

Trump has responded by calling Comey a “liar,” a “leaker” and a “slime ball.”

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