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White House Denies Trump Asked Comey to Shut Down Flynn Investigation

James Comey AP 2

WASHINGTON -- It's another news cycle and another headache for President Donald Trump. This time someone in the FBI leaked a memo to the New York Times that former Director James Comey allegedly wrote after an Oval Office meeting with the president.

The memo was penned one day after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned.

The newspaper quotes the president in the memo as telling Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go…he is a good guy."

The White House fired back.

"While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation," read a White House statement.

This leak comes a day after a separate leak to the Washington Post accused the president of disclosing classified information during a recent meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.

McMaster: Internal Leaks the Real Problem

On Tuesday, National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster doubled down on his defense of the president.

"The president in no way compromised any sources or methods in the course of this conversation," he told reporters.

McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell were all in the room and all concluded the president's conversation was appropriate.

"Our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality," McMaster charged.

President Trump even weighed in on his meeting with the Russians.

"We had a very, very successful meeting with the foreign minister of Russia. Our fight is against ISIS," he said.

"And we want to get as many to help fight terrorism as possible," Trump continued.

Trump Meets with Turkey's President

As these controversies played out, an increasingly controversial world figure arrived at the White House: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

After narrowly winning a referendum that gives him powers over all three branches of government, President Erdogan is leading Turkey towards authoritarianism. It's a slippery slope away from democracy that's been especially harsh for Christians and other non-Muslims living in the country.

"President Erdogan is sending a powerful message and that message is that Christianity, religious freedom have no place in Turkey," said Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition.

Rev. Mahoney and other Christians gathered outside the White House to pray during the leaders' meeting.

"On the issue of religious freedom, human rights and the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson," the group prayed.

Trump Goes to 'Bat' for Imprisoned Pastor

Their prayers were answered. A White House official told CBN News exclusively that President Trump "went to bat" for Pastor Brunson, raising his case twice. Vice President Mike Pence also brought it up.

Brunson, an American pastor who has ministered in Turkey for decades, has been imprisoned in Turkey since October. He was swept up in a terrorism investigation but never formally charged.

Aykan Erdemir, a former member of Turkey's parliament and current Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, calls Brunson's case "bogus." He says President Trump must be firm with Erdogan.

"Erdogan, I think, deals best with politicians who push him back. He only respects politicians who have a strong stance," Erdemir said.

"And probably the best strategy for Trump is to continue a principled engagement ," he advised, "and to convey to his counterpart that Erdogan and his inner circle's incitement against the U.S. and U.S. officials is not acceptable as NATO partners."

It's a strategic partnership that President Trump hopes to use to his advantage in his fight against ISIS.

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