Ex-FBI director to lead Russian Federation probe

White House officials initially claimed that Trump fired Comey on the advice of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and released a memo by the official voicing concerns about the FBI director's behavior, including his handling of an investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Some Democrats have lauded the appointment, seeing it as corroborating their allegations about collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to flip the election.

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

Hours later, as Air Force One flew over the Atlantic, the chairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced Comey would give public testimony on his sudden firing and issues relating to the Senate's ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.

On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials last week that Comey is a "nutjob" and that firing him relieved the "pressure" of the Russia investigations. Mr. Trump has denied making the request.

Not only did firing Comey not get investigators off Trump's back, but the investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and his campaign also includes a close adviser, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed officials. In the Oval Office weeks later, Mr Comey told associates, the president asked him to shut down an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied recent media claims that US President Donald Trump mentioned the dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation head James Comey during their meeting in Washington DC.

"We have not touched this topic at all", Lavrov told reporters in Nicosia, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

The White House did not dispute the account portrayed, and instead said that the FBI investigation had put unnecessary pressure on the President's ability to conduct diplomacy with Russian Federation.

Trump also set a goal to use the visits as a way to signal that the U.S. is re-establishing its global leadership role while emphasizing its allies' responsibility to share more of the burden of their own defence and to increase investment and partnerships that can create USA jobs, the official said.

The President also reiterated that he was not personally under investigation, although he previously admitted that he was thinking "of the Russian Federation thing" when he dismissed Mr Comey.

"I faced great pressure because of Russian Federation", the White House memo quotes Trump as saying. "The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it".

He had previously admitted that the investigation was part of the reasoning for the decision. Trump reportedly said, according to the memo, that Flynn was "a good guy" and "I hope you can let this go". And despite their apparent frustration with their boss, White House officials admit "Trump has got some special resilience that they can't begin to understand".

  • Salvatore Jensen