Firing FBI chief eases 'great pressure' from probe

Former FBI director James B. Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee at a date to be set sometime after Memorial Day, committee leaders announced Friday night.

He says he hopes Comey's testimony will answer some of the questions that have arisen since Comey was suddenly dismissed last week by President Donald Trump.

It says the president then told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador that he "faced great pressure because of Russian Federation". Comey also reportedly filed a memo after a February 14 White House meeting in which he claimed that Trump asked him to end the FBI's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump has insisted at times that the decision was his alone, but he also has pointed - as recently as Thursday - to the "very strong" recommendation from Rosenstein.

It said one official had read quotations to the Times and another had confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

The reports emerged as Mr Trump departed for his first overseas trip as United States president amid the controversy surrounding investigations into whether his campaign associates collaborated with Russian Federation to sway the election. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee's chairman and ranking member, respectively, said in a joint statement.

"A thorough investigation will confirm what we already know - there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity", he declared.

Contacted by the Times, White House press secretary Sean Spice did not deny Trump had made the statements, saying Comey's "grandstanding and politicizing" of the Russian Federation probe had put "unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation".

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.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the summary, saying in a statement that pressure applied by Comey had affected the President's diplomatic efforts with Russian Federation regarding Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State.

"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia", Spicer said. The details of his comments to the Russians would seem to bolster theories that Trump fired Comey in an effort to choke off the Russia investigation.

Robert Mueller, who served as FBI chief under George W Bush, was appointed this week as special counsel for the investigation. Officials said it had nothing to do with the Russian Federation investigation. Trump aides said he never tried to squelch the Flynn investigation nor made inappropriate disclosures to the Russians.

  • Leroy Wright