Trump was "scared to death" of James Comey, Comey's father says

A second Times report said Trump also had told Russian officials in a closed-door meeting at the Oval Office that firing Comey "had relieved great pressure on him".

In a post on Twitter, Chairman Jason Chaffetz, who will step down from his seat in Congress in June, said he had spoken with Comey who told him that before testifying in public he wanted to speak with former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating ties between Russian Federation and the presidential election campaign of Donald Trump.

The White House did not immediately respond to TPM's request for comment, but told the Washington Post that it "does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals".

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday", Tillerson said the whole point of the discussion - during which Trump reportedly disparaged Comey as "crazy" and a "nut job" - was to show he's not distracted from his more important goal.

In that memo - which the White House initially used as the justification for Comey's firing, before Trump later admitted he had made up his mind well before that - Rosenstein outlined reasons why Comey should be terminated, namely his handling of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server almost a year ago.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller is now investigating the matter as a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, not only for potential collusion, but also possible obstruction of justice.

"I have always been supportive of the investigations going on in the House (of Representatives) and the Senate", he said.

In addition to the requests to Coats and Rogers, senior White House officials sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the Federal Bureau of Investigation to drop its probe of Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chaffetz said he expects to speak with Comey on Monday and that if there are any notes of White House meetings, "we're certainly pursuing them".

"Can we ask him to shut down the investigation?" Trump, however, told NBC News he was going to fire Comey regardless of the memo. The former director will testify before the Senate intelligence committee after the Memorial Day holiday.

Generally, Rubio said, "if any president tries to impede an investigation..." According to notes kept by Comey, Trump first asked for his loyalty at a dinner in January and then, at a meeting the next month, asked him to drop the probe into Flynn. Some staffers say Republicans are increasingly exhausted of defending Trump. One way or another, it is vital that the truth is established and that the acting FBI Director fulfils the promise he made to the Select Committee that the investigation will be exhaustively completed in the interests of openness and transparency.

The New York Times was the first to report on the committee's requests.

  • Arturo Norris