Russian Federation investigation identifies White House official as person of interest
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 26, 2017,
May 26, 2017, 4:13
The comments were read to the Times by an American official and were from a White House document summarizing the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
The Russia story has plagued Trump's White House for months.
At the same meeting, The Washington Post reported earlier this week, Trump had given the Russians "highly classified information" that "jeopardized a critical source of intelligence" on ISIS that came from a key ally, which, according to later reports, was Israel. "Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russian Federation to greatly step up their fight against ISIS and terrorism".
"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.
"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 told The Times. Originally, the White House's position was that Comey was sacked on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who cited the FBI director's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the campaign.
The president on Thursday muddled his explanation for firing Comey last week, saying he ousted him because he was "very unpopular with most people".
"I just fired the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation".
The Justice Department issued the text of Mr Rosenstein's opening remarks for the briefings on Capitol Hill.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress Friday he stands by the memo he wrote criticizing Comey. At no point does he say he felt any legal pressure.
The report is the latest in a steady stream of bad headlines for the White House related to the fallout of Comey's firing.
In Rosenstein's meetings with lawmakers, he reiterated the scathing critique laid out in his memo concerning Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, including Comey's July news conference announcing that the FBI would not recommend charges.
"As President I wanted to share with Russian Federation (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety", he wrote in a pair of tweets. "He was insane, a real nut job", Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. "I believe it. I stand by it".