Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, decries 'witch hunt'

Trump clearly knew what he wanted to say as he took a few questions at a news briefing with visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

Trump referred to Comey's testimony at a recent Capitol Hill hearing, after which the Justice Department ended up having to amend part of his testimony regarding last year's probe of Hillary Clinton's email practices. I think it shows division, and it shows that we're not together as a country.

Mr Trump on Thursday also denied ever asking Mr Comey to shut down the FBI's investigation into his former national security adviser, Mike Flynn.

Trump said there was "no collusion" but added that he can only speak for himself.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to lead the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election.

Trump told the reporters at Thursday's luncheon that "we are very, very close to announcing" a new Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

During the course of Thursday's press conference, Trump said he fired Comey based on the recommendation made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, named Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue.

"He will need an outside team for this", a Republican close to the White House said.

"The entire thing has been a witch hunt", he declared, echoing one of the tweets he'd sent out just after dawn: "This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!" On Wednesday, the president reportedly interviewed four candidates for Comey's former position at the White House.

President Donald Trump lashed out again Thursday at the ongoing inquiries into his presidential campaign and Russian Federation, counteracting an earlier, more measured response from the White House.

Trump is responding to the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead a probe of allegations that Trump's campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to sway the election.

Trump last week fired ex-FBI Director James Comey, whose agency was investigating the president's campaign, and reports since then have raised questions about whether he had tried to influence the investigation.

  • Leroy Wright