Senators: Former FBI Director James Comey to testify publicly before intelligence panel
President Trump was hit with another set of Russia-related allegations late Friday moments after departing on his first foreign trip as commander-in-chief, with one report claiming the president trash-talked James Comey in a meeting with Moscow dignitaries and another saying the Russian Federation probe has reached a current White House official.
Comey’s sudden dismissal and reports that Trump asked the former FBI director to curb the bureau’s investigation into his ousted national security adviser, Michael Flynn, prompted Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel this week to oversee the probe.
Trump, who on Friday left for his first foreign trip, has slammed the appointment of a special counsel as a politically motivated “witch hunt“. Sessions has recused himself from the Trump-Russia probe, citing his close involvement in the Trump campaign a year ago.
FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20, 2017 about President’s Trump wiretapping claims and Trump’s presidential campaign links to Russian hackers.
Questions remain about what contacts took place between Trump advisers and the Russians, and about Russia investments in Trump businesses. His answer to those questions will carry significant weight with lawmakers, who have already asked for copies of that memo.
He said the notion that he may have affected the presidential race made him feel “mildly nauseous”, though he’d do it all again because not doing so “would have been catastrophic”.
At first, the White House said Trump fired Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Comey’s handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton previous year.
“Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader”, Rosenstein said in prepared remarks for appearances before House and Senate lawmakers that were released Friday by the Justice Department. Trump has dismissed suggestions of links with Moscow as Democratic sour grapes for losing the election. Other news reports also said that, during that same meeting, Trump discussed classified counter-terrorism information with the Russians.
The possibility of a cover-up is the third branch of an investigation that began as a look at Russian meddling in the election and broadened into whether members of the Trump campaign had cooperated in that efforts, according to the briefing, members of Congress said. Trump and his aides have repeatedly denied any collusion with Russian Federation.
So while the White House claims Trump based his decision on the recommendations of Rosenstein and Sessions, Rosenstein says he only wrote his memo after learning-on May 8-that Comey was going to be fired. But the new claims could make that reset more hard.
“It is a candid internal memorandum about the FBI director’s public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation”, he said.