Kentucky Republican Congressman James Comer said Wednesday President Donald Trump “may have been joking” when Trump reportedly asked FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn.

The New York Times reported late Tuesday that Comey constructed a contemporaneous account of the meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, indicating Trump told Comey, “I hope you can let this go.” Trump subsequently fired Comey, sparking a growing political controversy.

Comer, who represents Kentucky’s Second District, was asked by a Washington Post reporter if he thought Trump was joking and responded by saying he could have.

Comer recounted the story later Wednesday during an on-air interview on CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin.

“I said, he could have said that in a joking manner,” Comer told Baldwin. “A lot of times when you say a joke, people laugh, but when you read it in print, it’s not that funny.”

Comer is in his first term in Congress and is a member of the House Oversight Committee that is expected to investigate the reports of the Comey meeting with Trump. Some are calling Trump’s request — if true — evidence of obstruction of justice, a charge some Democrats say could lead to impeachment.

Comer, however, thinks that’s more than premature, saying many are “hitting the panic button” and rushing to judgment.

Nobody is above the law,” Comer said, “and I take this very seriously.  But, I think we don’t need to rush to judgment and we certainly need to let the facts come before the various bodies of Congress that are investigating this right now.”

Baldwin then reminded Comer that Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, said the latest revelations may have reached the size and scale of the Watergate scandal which ended Richard Nixon’s presidency.

Comer said he is the son of a Vietnam War veteran with great respect for McCain, a Vietnam prisoner of war, “but I do think there are a few Republicans in Congress that are hitting the panic button right now.”

He said members of both parties in Congress need “to step back and take a deep breath,” and then questioned why Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said there’d been no effort to influence the FBI investigation when he testified to Congress last week.

Comer also repeated a frequent Republican talking point, that Democrats who are now crying foul over Comey’s firing previously called for his dismissal over his public statements during the presidential campaign about investigations into Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s email server while she was Secretary of State.

But he said he’s confident congressional committees will get to the bottom of the controversy and act once they have the facts.

“And if a law has been broken, then we’ll go from there because, as I said earlier, no one is above the law,” Comer said.

But he continued to defend Trump, even if in a left-handed way at times.

“Donald Trump’s not very polished,” said Comer. “He’s made a lot of mistakes very early on. I hope he can get things together because we have an agenda here to make America great again.”

But Trump, Comer said, is “on the hot seat” and Republicans wish the president wouldn’t tweet so frequently, “but that’s who he is and that’s what the American people elected.”

He told Baldwin he believes his constituents continue to support Trump, noting he conducted four town halls while in Kentucky during last week’s House recess.

“The majority of the people there supported the president,” Comer said. “He won my district by over 50 points and a lot of people in Kentucky are saying he’s only been president for a little over 100 days. Let’s give him a chance. Let’s give him a chance to get his administration together.”

The town halls occurred before news that Trump may have asked Comey to end the Flynn investigation.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort

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