FBI's Russian Federation probe implicates top White House official

In this May 3, 2017, file photo, FBI Director James Comey listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious since Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russian Federation ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

A current, senior White House adviser - not merely another former campaign aide or distant associate of President Trump - has been identified by federal investigators as a significant person of interest in a probe aimed at determining whether Trump's political team colluded with Russian Federation to meddle in the 2016 election. Mr Rosenstein was "unequivocal" that the panel can and should continue its investigation, according to people familiar with his remarks.

The CIA was reportedly first to find evidence about Russia's involvement in the election of Trump; in late August, director John Brennan phoned eight of his senior staff, some on their summer vacations using private phone lines, to brief them on information about hacked Democratic emails.

Mr Trump met with the Russians on 10 May - the day after Mr Comey was sacked.

In the memo, Rosenstein wrote that Comey had been fired for poor handling of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton, namely Comey's announced days before the Presidential election that the case had been reopened.

The White House initially said last week that a letter Rosenstein wrote accusing Comey of missteps as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, including his handling of an election-year probe into Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, was what prompted Trump to fire Comey.

Comey's July 5 press conference, Rosenstein said, "was profoundly wrong and unfair both to the Department of Justice and Secretary Clinton".

President Donald Trump lashed out at the appointment of a special counsel to investigate allegations that his campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to sway the 2016 election, tweeting Thursday that it is "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!"

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", Mr Trump said.

Rosenstein said in testimony to the Congress this week that investigators are now looking into the possibility of a coverup by the White House, unidentified lawmakers told McClatchy Friday.

When such conversations are necessary, only the attorney-general or the deputy attorney-general can initiate those discussions. FBI director James Comey had publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation in March.

"There was considerable frustration in the room", said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee. "It renewed my confidence that we should have no confidence in this Administration".

The White House has struggled since Comey's firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and who exactly made the decision.

A self-described friend of Comey's wrote in a public blog post on Thursday that Comey had told him that he had rebuffed a Trump request for loyalty by promising only honesty. His report wasn't created for Trump's review. "I strongly disagreed with his analysis, but I believe that he made his decisions in good faith".

He reiterated his judgments from the May 9 memo, saying Comey mishandled the Clinton email investigation.

Others are already considering leaving, and allies due to join the administration say they are holding off. This means Trump can fire the special counsel, with cause. "The numbers are staggering, how successful the military has been", Trump said.

But he added a qualifier that seemed to leave open the question of others' involvement. (Rosenstein backed up this version, telling a Senate committee that Trump had already chose to fire Comey before he wrote his letter.) But after Trump saw the backlash to his seeming honesty, he and his staff backtracked to the recommendation line.

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