Trump branded Comey 'nut job' as investigation points at White House
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 21, 2017,
May 21, 2017, 5:22
The White House is not denying a report Friday afternoon that President Donald Trump called former FBI Director James Comey a "nut job" in a meeting with the Russian foreign minister the day after firing Comey.
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.
He then told the pair, "I'm not under investigation".
The worldwide trip, which includes stops in the Middle East and Europe, comes at an opportune time for the White House, which has endured a week full of bombshell news stories that threaten to engulf the administration.
The Post's article did not explore in any detail which person "close to the president" is a person of interest to federal law-enforcement officials, though speculation is likely to focus on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who neglected to report contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who had controversial communications with the FBI about the ongoing investigation.
Citing anonymous sources, the newspaper did not name the senior Trump administration staffer but said that the individual had become a "significant person of interest".
"The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russian Federation as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people", said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a statement.
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 that country.
Rosenstein briefed lawmakers on Friday days after appointing a special prosecutor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to oversee the Russian Federation investigation.
Trump and his team had originally denied that the Russian Federation investigation had anything to do with Comey's firing, saying it was based on his handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe.
The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.
The White House doubled down on that stance Friday, with Spicer saying Comey's investigation was harming U.S.
"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 notes were taken from inside the office and circulated "as the official account of the meeting".
"This is blatant", Painter said.
Attorney Nick Akerman, an assistant special prosecutor during Watergate, said building an obstruction case "comes down to intent". Are you ready for today's news dump?
The "nutjob" remarks are not the first things Trump said during his Lavrov meeting that have gained widespread attention. This was the same meeting in which Trump revealed previously classified information.
The White House has struggled since Comey's firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and the Justice Department's involvement in that decision. "Zero", Trump said Thursday during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
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.
Trump on Friday took off for a nine-day trip overseas, his first as president.
"I hope that former Director Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President".
A date of this open hearing would be scheduled after the Memorial Day, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said yesterday. "Moreover, the American people deserve an opportunity to hear it".