Comey's statement gives both Democrats and Republicans something to pick on

Wollner said. "Trump asking, 'Well, if you don't pledge me your loyalty, then you're out as Federal Bureau of Investigation director?' Comey did not go that far to suggest there was any sort of implication to that degree in his written testimony".

"FBI directors are supposed to be independent", Ryan said of the Trump-Comey interactions.

Rogers in fact had heated exchange of words with Warner during the Congressional hearing.

Senator Reed is an ex-officio member of the Intelligence Committee and will have the opportunity to question Comey Thursday.

Trump then asked what Comey "could do to 'lift the cloud.' I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn't find anything, to our having done the work well". Democrats said they would press the issue of obstruction while Republicans hedged their comments.

In the statement, released on Wednesday with Mr Comey's approval, Mr Comey confirmed that he had assured the President that he was not under investigation.

Coats said: "In my time of service, which is interacting with the president of the United States or anybody in this administration, I have never been pressured". That's a charge that the White House denies.

"He described the Russian Federation investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country", the statement said of Trump in the March 30 phone call, adding that Trump had asked how to "lift the cloud". "He brings a lot of credibility", said Benjamin Wittes, a Comey confidant and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The details shared by Comey are likely to further fuel the debate over whether the president may have attempted to obstruct justice by pressuring the FBI director about a sensitive investigation.

And at a private White House dinner on 27 January, just days after the Republican billionaire took office, Comey said Trump appeared to want to "create some sort of patronage relationship" with him.

On the Comey statement, Mr. Trump chose to express satisfaction.

In his statement, Comey made clear he had been uncomfortable discussing an ongoing investigation with the president, even as he assured Trump that he himself was not a target of the probe.

Greenberg said she expects that he will "stand up for the integrity of the law in a way that the public can understand".

The FBI continue their investigation into members of the Trump campaign's team links to Russian Federation.

Among the Democrats, Congresswoman Kathy Castor said in a tweet that Trump's demand of a loyalty pledge "looks like obstruction", while Senator Ron Wyden said Trump's request to drop the Flynn probe "is nearly a Watergate-level effort to interfere with an ongoing investigation". Comey describes nine one-on-one conversations with Trump in four months.

  • Carolyn Briggs