White House Faces New Pressure on Comey, Russia

Initially, the administration had claimed that the president had terminated Comey's employment based exclusively upon a recommendation from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

He responded to the report a White House official is a person of interest with one sentence: "As the President has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity".

In that same conversation, Trump referred to Comey as "crazy" and "a real nut job", according to the Times.

Committee chairman Senator Richard Burr said he wants to hear from Mr Comey on his role in the development of the U.S. intelligence agencies' assessment that Russian Federation interfered in last year's presidential elections.

The news comes after Trump was hit by embarrassing leaks suggesting 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.

The report was published just as Mr Trump took off on a flight to the Middle East for the first leg of his first foreign tour as president.

James Comey will come speak in a public sessions before the Senate Intelligence Committee sometime after Memorial Day, the committee announced Friday evening.

In his earlier Twitter posts, Mr Trump criticised the naming of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller as a special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, an official he had appointed. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee's chairman and ranking member, respectively, said in a joint statement.

"This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration", Moulton said. "I don't think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today". Trump has insisted at times that the decision was his alone, but he also has pointed to the "very strong" recommendation from Rosenstein.

A July 5, 2016 press conference in which Comey sharply criticized Clinton's behavior but exonerated her of any legal wrong-doing was "profoundly wrong and unfair", Rosenstein told Congress, to both the Department of Justice, which Comey had not notified before holding the press conference, and to Clinton. "My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination", he said.

The billionaire property mogul added: "I'm not under investigation".

Trump Told Russians Firing 'Nut Job' Comey Relieved 'Great Pressure'
Comey is known to produce memos documenting especially sensitive or unsettling encounters, such as after the February meeting. The Russian government is accused by United States intelligence of trying to tilt the 2016 election in Trump's favor.

"I respect the move", he said.

The ex-FBI chief has not spoken publicly since his surprise firing last week.

"That's taken off." He also told the Russians that he isn't under investigation. With little initial Republican support even for a special counsel and the process requiring majority support from the Republican-controlled House, it is considered a long shot.

The new headlines were a fresh indication that Mr Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.

The White House, however, denied such allegations.

The appointment of the special counsel indicates other believe that's still open to question.

In his Congressional testimony, Rosenstein said that he strongly disagreed with a number of Comey's decisions regarding the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's private email server. But some Democrats said the briefing with Rosenstein had only reinforced the need for such an independent body.

FBI Director James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill on May 3.

Trump has called the furore since he fired Comey a "witch hunt" and insisted there was no contact between his campaign and Russian Federation.

A number of House members left Friday's briefing frustrated that they hadn't learned more. Some still wanted a clearer understanding of why, exactly, he wrote his memo, but reported that despite being asked numerous times in various ways, Rosenstein would not elaborate.

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