'White House adviser is person of interest in Russian Federation probe'

Ryan Special counsel won't interfere with Russia probes on Hill

Victoria Sarno Jordan

Trump was meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the White House on May 10 when, according to the account reported by the Times, he made the derisive statements about Comey and also indicated possible motivations behind the director's ouster.

President Donald Trump told a Russian official in the Oval Office that firing former FBI Director James Comey relieved "great pressure" Trump said he was facing "because of Russia", The New York Times reported Friday. The White House initially said that Comey was sacked following the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, but Trump undercut that account in an interview on May 11 when he said he was going to fire Comey regardless of what Rosenstein suggested because the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief was a "showboat". It appears to be another incidence of Trump claiming he fired Comey because of the Russian investigation, contradicting the official reason given by the White House. "He was insane, a real nut job", Trump allegedly said to the Russian envoys.

In the Post story, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was quoted denying that investigators would find anything incriminating toward the former Trump campaign.

That pattern begins with Trump's reported requests for Comey to pledge his loyalty and assurance that he wasn't under FBI investigation and ends when he fired Comey and criticized him in front of the Russians. President Trump gave classified information to the Russians.

It may not be for a week or so, but there will be a hush in Washington when James Comey testifies.

The Kremlin took that tack as well, with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calling Comey's dismissal an "internal affair" that "has nothing to do and should have nothing to do with Russian Federation".

Comey will testify publicly before the Senate intelligence committee after Memorial Day, the panel's leaders announced Friday. Trump was telling Mr. Lavrov of the "pressure" he was now under.

Among Trump's senior White House advisers are several former campaign officials, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway.

Trump and his team planned the trip as an opportunity for the U.S. president to unify Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders against extremism, a senior administration official said.

Comey's decision ended more than a week of speculation about whether he would appear publicly to make his case since he was sacked by Trump on 9 May, and underscores how the probe is accelerating. Are you ready for today's news dump?

A special counsel, Robert Mueller, has now been appointed to investigate Russian meddling in the election.

The memo focuses on Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, particularly the FBI director's decision to divulge details to the public at various junctures. According to notes taken during the meeting with the Russians that served as the official summary, Trump expressed relief that he had gotten rid of Comey.

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