Under fire at home, Trump lands in Saudi for first foreign trip

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats last week his firing of "nut job" James Comey had eased the pressure on him, even as the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation had moved into the White House, according to reports Friday that pursued the president as he began his maiden foreign trip.

Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee after Memorial Day, and the main question around his hearing will be whether Comey believes Trump was trying to intervene in the FBI's investigation.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the panel, said Comey's testimony would help "answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President".

The Post said the source of its information would not further identify the official, who was described as being a person close to Trump.

The newspaper cited a document detailing the White House meeting Trump held with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to Washington in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey.

The report quotes Mr Trump as calling ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey "crazy" and "a real nut job". "He was insane, a real nut job", Trump said on May 10, according to the paper.

"I faced great pressure because of Russian Federation", he said.

"Don't expect leaks" from the CIA, FBI and White House "to stop" following the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman tweeted.

The revelation in the New York Times comes after Comey, a committed Christian who is a member of the United Methodist Church who majored in chemistry and religion when he was a student at at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, was sacked by Trump. Trump denies having made this request. In a reported memo, Comey allegedly says Trump asked him to let the probe into Flynn go. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI's Russian Federation investigation.

"The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it".

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account.

The President also reiterated that he was not personally under investigation.

The president's son-in-law Jared Kushner is among those whose contacts with the Russian government have come under scrutiny. Comey, who headed the FBI's now-criminal investigation into the same events, declined to do so.

  • Larry Hoffman