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Lawmakers Issue Requests For Comey's Memo Regarding Flynn Investigation

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Right now in Congress, there's a mix of caution and calls for action. We're going to get more reaction from Capitol Hill to the reports that President Trump may have pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. NPR's Geoff Bennett starts us off.

GEOFF BENNETT, BYLINE: On Capitol Hill, there's a sense among lawmakers that this latest controversy involving the president is different. Reaching a new level of seriousness, some House Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach rather than dismissing the latest revelations involving President Trump and the FBI director.

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ROBERT ADERHOLT: We want to see what develops, but at this point, you know, I have not seen anything that is that alarming.

BENNETT: That's Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt. He was among the few Republicans willing to speak with reporters outside the House GOP's weekly closed-door meeting Wednesday morning. Republican Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho also says it's still too early to make a judgment.

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MIKE SIMPSON: And I don't mean to be cute about this, but if the president comes up and says, you know that investigation you're doing on Flynn? I want it to end. That's one thing. If he comes up and says, you know, I've known Flynn for a number of years, he's a great guy, I hope you can get past this. That's probably different.

BENNETT: House Speaker Paul Ryan is urging caution, so much so that when a reporter asked him to weigh in, Ryan read a prepared statement in response.

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PAUL RYAN: We need the facts. It is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president, but we have an obligation to carry out our oversight regardless of which party is in the White House. And that means before rushing to judgment, we get all the pertinent information.

BENNETT: Pressure for that pertinent information is coming from both parties. Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is giving the FBI a deadline of next Wednesday to turn over Comey's records. Many Democrats are already calling Trump's Comey encounter possible obstruction of justice. A handful of Democrats and at least one Republican, Michigan's Justin Amash, say the details contained in Comey's memo - if true - merit impeachment.

But Democratic leaders aren't throwing around the I-word just yet. What they want right now is an independent bipartisan commission to pick up the investigation into Russia's alleged election interference and the potential ties to Trump's presidential campaign. Congressman Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, says it's necessary because as he sees it...

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ELIJAH CUMMINGS: House Republicans have shown repeatedly that they refuse to conduct credible robust oversight over this president. They do as little as humanly possible just to claim that they're doing something.

BENNETT: Meanwhile, the Senate intelligence committee is also asking for Comey's records and inviting the ousted former FBI director to testify. Senator Mark Warner, the committee's ranking Democrat, says Comey should share what he knows with the American people.

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MARK WARNER: If that all proves what's been reported as true - to be true, it - no matter how we describe it beyond troubling, concerning, all of the other adjectives that we've - we used in the past, this is now a factor of 10.

BENNETT: A factor of 10, he says, as both sides try to get to the facts. Geoff Bennett, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.