Comey agrees to testify before Senate Intel Committee

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During the meeting – in which Trump allegedly revealed classified information provided by Israel – the president reportedly said Comey’s firing a day earlier had had relieved him of “great pressure” over his ties to Russian Federation.

“I hope that former Director Comey’s testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President”, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, said in a statement on Friday.

“The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russian Federation as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people”. The White House is disputing a report that President Donald Trump asked Comey to shut down an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Earlier, the New York Times reported the US President had told Russian officials Mr Comey was a “nut job” whose ouster relieved “great pressure” on him.

“Among the concerns that I recall were to restore the credibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, respect the established authority of the Department of Justice, limit public statements and eliminate leaks”, he said, echoing the sentiments he had outlined in a May 9 memo that the White House released publicly that day and cited as the basis for the firing.

Contacted by the Times, White House press secretary Sean Spice did not deny Trump had made the statements, saying Comey’s “grandstanding and politicizing” of the Russian Federation probe had put “unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation”.

In response to the latest reports on Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer again rejected the allegations and said, “A thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity”.

“The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it”, Spicer said, adding that the real story was the leaks of “private and highly classified conversations”.

The Justice Department on Friday released the text of Rosenstein’s opening remarks for the briefings on Capitol Hill.

Comey has not spoken publicly since President Donald Trump abruptly fired him less than two weeks ago amid his agency’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump camapaign and Russian officials.

The reports, emerging just as Trump jetted off to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president, were likely to extend the turmoil engulfing his administration since the May 9 firing of Comey. Rosenstein said that though he was personally fond of Comey, “I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader”. The person may be cooperating or have information of use to investigators.

In a statement issued on Friday evening, the committee said that it would schedule the hearing for after Memorial Day.

The White House executive summary “contained Mr. Trump’s comments, was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting”, the Times said. The members said he said he’d been told of the decision to fire Comey before he was asked to write the memo.

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