Comey agrees to testify before Senate Intel Committee

Washington, May 20 Sacked FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify before a Congressional committee in an open session about alleged Russian interference in the USA presidential polls previous year.

U.S. President Donald Trump was hit on Friday by embarrassing leaks that a senior adviser was a "person of interest" in a probe of possible collusion with Russia during last year's election campaign and that Trump had boasted to Russian officials of firing the man heading the investigation.

Mr Trump's terse denial followed reports by Reuters and other media about a memo written by Mr Comey alleging that Mr Trump made the request to close down the investigation into Mr Michael Flynn and Russian Federation in February.

Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Senate Intelligence Committee are investigating Russia's meddling in the presidential campaign, including whether anyone from the Trump team colluded with Kremlin officials. Richard Burr, R-NC, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who head the Intelligence Committee, had previously invited Comey to speak in a closed session as part of the committee's own investigation into Russia's interference.

One government official interviewed by the Times claimed Trump's talk of "pressure" was a negotiation tactic, meant to press upon Moscow that its meddling in the 2016 elections had raised problems for the president, and to induce Russian Federation into diplomatic concessions.

Trump has faced a steady flow of controversial revelations over the past 10 days, including that he asked Comey in February to end the FBI's investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The hearing will be scheduled after Memorial Day.

"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", Trump said.

Iranian election back to two-horse race as Tehran mayor withdraws
He reached a deal with world powers in 2015 which lifted most global sanctions in return for curbing Iran's nuclear programme. That deal saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions.

In another Twitter post Thursday, Trump said: "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed".

A small group of lawmakers known as the Gang of Eight were notified of the change in tempo and focus in the investigation at a classified briefing on Wednesday evening, the Post reported, citing the people familiar with the matter.

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly", he said. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing. That would surely include Trump's firing of Comey.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are also probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Trump, who has embraced what he describes as an "America First" approach to USA foreign policy and worldwide trade, is expected to be welcomed warmly by leaders in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account.

Earlier Friday, the AP reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has told members of Congress he stands by a memo he wrote that preceded the president's firing Comey. He had been in contact with former Trump adviser Carter Page, though Page has said he shared only "basic immaterial information and publicly available research documents" with the Russian.

"This is a truth hunt", said Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

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