President Donald Trump reportedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to think about imprisoning some reporters.
According to The New York Times' May 16 report which alleges that Trump asked Comey to cease investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the president pulled Comey aside after a briefing with top security officials regarding a terrorism threat, recalled one of Comey's associates. Trump then reportedly expressed disdain for the news media leaking information and suggested to Comey that he consider putting reporters in jail if they release classified information.
The pair then discussed Flynn, who was under investigation at the time for his ties to Russia.
"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," Trump reportedly told Comey. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
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The memo reportedly states that Comey did not speak about the investigation but simply said, "I agree he is a good guy."
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press responded to Trump's suggestion to imprison members of the media, saying in a statement that it "should not intimidate the press but inspire it," according to CNBC.
"The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line," Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown said in a May 16 press release. "But no president gets to jail journalists. Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information."
Trump has often condemned press leaks, and the issue has returned to the forefront after news broke that he reportedly shared classified information with Russian officials.
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"Comments such as these, emerging in the way they did, only remind us that every day public servants are reaching out to reporters to ensure the public is aware of the risks today to rule of law in this country," Brown continued..
The White House rejected The Times report, saying in a statement that it is untrue and that Trump "has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation" about Flynn or others, notes The Times.
"The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations," said the statement. "This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey."