Latest Russia probe leaks threaten to derail Trump's foreign trip

Comey's highly-anticipated testimony, which will be slated after the Memorial Day congressional recess, comes after he was sacked by Trump May 9 amid a mounting investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election and possible ties between Trump campaign associates and the country.

The FBI's investigation has bedeviled the Trump administration, and the president personally. They have, however, also jumped in with both feet on nearly any anonymous story linking this administration with Russia, spreading tales of electrical grids being hacked and breathlessly repeating reports "proving" Russian interference in U.S. elections, many of which have been found to be totally without merit.

Trump admitted last week that he fired Comey in part because of the Russian Federation investigation, blowing up the White House message that the firing was based on a Department of Justice recommendation.

The White House document that contained Trump's comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting.

On Thursday, Trump declared himself the victim of the "greatest witch hunt" in American political history and denied allegations of collusion.

Burr says the committee wants to hear from Comey on his role in the development of the USA intelligence agencies' assessment that Russian Federation interfered in last year's election.

Trump has faced a steady flow of controversial revelations over the past 10 days, including that he asked Comey in February to end the FBI's investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The highly anticipated testimony of former FBI Director James Comey was announced by Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) Friday.

During the meeting - in which Trump allegedly revealed classified information provided by Israel - the president reportedly said Comey's firing a day earlier had had relieved him of "great pressure" over his ties to Russian Federation.

Comey turned down an invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The mainstream media have jumped on the as-yet-anonymous reports as additional fuel for their assertions that Trump ousted Comey for investigating his ties with Russian Federation.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer offered a statement that did not dispute Trump's quotes and instead presented them as the president talking frankly about the "pressure" Comey had put on Trump's diplomatic responsibilities.

Trump has repeatedly slammed the FBI and congressional investigations as a "hoax" and blamed disgruntled officials at intelligence agencies for leaking information related to the probes.

"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. "I faced great pressure because of Russian Federation". But Rosenstein, who has only recently been confirmed to be the Justice Department's second-highest ranking official, left no doubt that it was voluntary.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the federal investigation in an effort to re-establish independence from the White House.

She said it's a "ridiculous statement" for Trump to make and results in "elevating the Russians as his confidante at the expense of our justice system". But he added, "I wrote it".

  • Larry Hoffman