John F. Kelly, who served as former President Donald J. Trump’s second White House chief of staff, said in the sworn statement that Mr. Trump discussed having the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies investigate two FBI officials involved in the investigation. His campaign’s relations with Russia.
Mr. Kelly said his recall of Mr. Trump’s comments to him was based on notes he took at the time in 2018. Mr. Kelly provided copies of his notes to the attorneys on behalf of an FBI official, who made the statement under oath. public in court filing.
“President Trump has asked whether investigations should be conducted by the Internal Revenue Service or other federal agencies of Mr. Strzok and/or Ms. Page,” Mr. Kelly said in the statement. I don’t know that President Trump has ordered such an investigation. However, he seems to want to see Mr. Strzok and Mrs. Page investigate.”
Mr. Kelly’s assertions were revealed Thursday in a statement filed in connection with the lawsuits brought against the Department of Justice by Peter Strzok, who was the lead agent in the FBI’s Russia investigation, and Lisa Page, a former attorney for the bureau. Their privacy rights were violated when the Trump administration sent public text messages between them.
The disclosures by Mr. Kelly, made under penalty of perjury, show how interested Mr. Trump is in harnessing the investigative and law enforcement powers of the federal government to target his perceived enemies. In the aftermath of Richard M. Nixon’s presidency, Congress made it illegal for the president to “directly or indirectly” order an investigation or audit of the IRS.
The New York Times reported last July that two of Mr. Trump’s greatest enemies – James B. and an invasive IRS audit.
It is not known if the IRS investigated Mr. Strzok or Ms. Page. But Mr. Strzok became a subject in Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation into how the FBI investigated Mr. Trump’s campaign. Neither Mr. Strzok nor Mrs. Page has been charged in connection with this investigation, which former law enforcement officials and Democrats have criticized as an attempt to carry out Mr. Trump’s vendetta against the office. Mr. Strzok is also suing the department for wrongful termination.
Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page exchanged text messages that were critical of Mr. Trump and were later made public by Rod G. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general under Trump, as he faced heavy criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill who were trying to find ways to undermine him.
The statements Kelly made under oath are similar to those he made to the New York Times in November, in which he said that Mr. Trump had told him he wanted a number of his potential political enemies to be investigated by the IRS, including Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe, Mr. Strzok, and Mrs. Page.
Mr. Kelly told The Times last year that Mr. Trump’s demands were part of a broader pattern of attempts to use the Justice Department and his power as president against people who criticized him, including seeking to revoke the security clearances of former top officials. intelligence officials.
In the sworn-in statement, Mr. Kelly said Mr. Trump discussed revoking security clearances from Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page, though Mr. Kelly took no action on the idea. Mr. Kelly said his notes showed Mr. Trump discussed the investigations with the two on February 21, 2018.
“I did not take note of every instance in which then-President Trump made a comment about Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page,” Mr. Kelly said. President Trump has generally refused to take notes in meetings. He was concerned that the banknotes might be used against him later.”
Mr. Kelly said he has taken no steps to follow through on Mr. Trump’s wishes to investigate his enemies.
Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about the audits of Mr. Comey, Mr. McCabe, and their wives. The IRS inspector general last year found that Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe were randomly selected for audits, though the inspector general’s report acknowledged some deviations from the IRS’s strict rules on random selection when the agency made final selections of returns that would be audited. .
Mr. Kelly told the Times last year that Mr. Trump sometimes discussed using the IRS and the Justice Department to address others in addition to Mr. Comey, Mr. McCabe, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page.
Among them, Kelly said, was former CIA director John O. Brennan. Hillary Clinton; and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, whose coverage has often angered Mr. Trump.
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