Rosenstein says he stands by memo criticizing Comey

20 May, 2017, 10:14 | Author: Valerie Burke

The New York Times is reporting that President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats that firing the "nut job" Federal Bureau of Investigation director had relieved "great pressure" on him.

"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage with negotiate with Russian Federation", said Spicer.

Rosenstein in his remarks to Congress today echoed the contents of the memo he sent to Trump in his criticism of the former FBI chief's handling of the Clinton email probe, including Comey's press conference last July about the investigation.

In a statement replying to the Times article, Spicer said the "real story" is that someone leaked Trump's conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak.

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 former FBI Director James Comey.

The headline on the Times story claims: "Trump Told Russians That Firing "Nut Job" Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation". It says the president then told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador that he "faced great pressure because of Russian Federation".

To be sure, the president effectively admitted his reasoning for firing Comey - a confession that carried a whiff of obstruction of justice - in an NBC News interview last week, but now we have additional evidence of Trump conceding that the original White House line wasn't true, and his genuine motivations only add to the severity of the scandal. But in the context of the FBI investigation, the separation between Trump and those working on his behalf is shrinking as the probe pushes nearer to his inner circle. The White House denied the reports.

"I just got a message from the president to stay strong", Flynn told his friends at a restaurant in northern Virginia late last month, according to Yahoo News.

The Times report further undermines the official White House explanation for Comey's firing - an explanation Trump has already personally contradicted several times over. It was later discovered that the Trump administration knew about Mr Flynn's connections to Russia - which also include payments for a speech to the Russian state supported news organisation RT - even before bringing him into the White House.

President Trump embarks on his first global trip as commander-in-chief on Friday amid a slew of bad headlines that have shaken the White House. But Trump later acknowledged in an interview with NBC that the Russian Federation investigation was a factor.

The Times report added to the impression given by Trump himself in a television interview last week in which he said the Russian Federation issue was a factor in firing Comey.

When asked about the Justice Department appointing Mueller as Special Counsel, the President deflected the question.

In a statement Friday evening, the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Comey has agreed to publicly testify in front of the panel about his role in the Russian Federation investigation.

"I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media", said Senator Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, chairman of the committee.

Chaffetz has scheduled a hearing on Comey's firing next Wednesday, although it's not clear if Comey will testify.

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