James Comey approached AG Jeff Sessions with concerns about Trump

After the encounter, Coats discussed the conversation with other officials and decided that intervening with Comey as Trump had suggested would be inappropriate, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.

And while Trump said he believed Comey "asked for the dinner", former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Comey told him Trump had invited him to dinner.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go". By the time Trump fired Comey last month, Comey had disclosed the meeting to a few of his closest advisers but nobody at the Justice Department, the Times reports, citing officials, who did not want to be identified discussing Comey's interactions with Trump and Sessions.

In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017 photo, then-FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Comey was given the go-ahead to deliver potentially explosive testimony after the White House announced it would not use its executive privilege to block his appearance, less than a month after he was controversially sacked by the president.

Republican committee member Senator Roy Blunt said he welcomed Comey's testimony, but warned there could be "a big problem" if the ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation boss is too restrictive in his responses.

Comey will be the center of attention on Thursday during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he is expected to be quizzed intensely about his interactions with Trump and why he made a decision to keep secret the president's request to end the Flynn investigation.

There is no evidence that political motives drove Obama administration officials to request the names of Trump associates in any intercepts.

This date is likely to be a major focus of Comey's hearing because it's when - according to a memo Comey wrote at the time - Trump asked Comey to drop the federal investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Asked last night if he had a message for Mr Comey, Mr Trump said: "I wish him good luck".

Lawmakers in both parties have urged Trump to allow Comey to testify publicly.

Since Comey was ousted May 9, Trump and Comey allies have traded competing narratives about their interactions.

In a daily press briefing, Sean Spicer was asked if Trump still has confidence in the attorney general, who was one of the earliest politicians from the Republican party to side with Trump's campaign.

Oversight of the Russian Federation probe was left with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who last month appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead the inquiry as the Justice Department's special counsel.

Looking for work-arounds, the White House is handing off Comey testimony response efforts to the Republican National Committee, which has already begun coordinating a messaging campaign at the national, state and local levels to defend the White House from Comey's potentially damaging testimony.

He will dispute the president's claims that he assured him on three occasions that he was not under investigation, according to the report.

But one source said Comey is expected to explain to senators that those were much more nuanced conversations from which Trump concluded that he was not under investigation. We need to start fighting back.

"Regardless of how you feel about Comey, that's not how he should be treated", Warner said Monday. "I'm a little upset about that", Trump said obliquely, referring to the headline-grabbing allegations surrounding his son-in-law's contacts with Russian officials.

Rollins and others with Great America say they plan to stand up for Trump in cable appearances Thursday.

  • Zachary Reyes