Trump 'told Russians that firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him'

Then-FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing earlier this month before he was sacked by President Trump.

Comey, however, turned down an invitation to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee as well, which left chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., "extremely disappointed", the lawmakers said in a statement Friday evening.

The remarks, reported in The New York Times, came amid an investigation into potential collusion between the president's campaign and Russian government officials, allegations Trump has repeatedly dismissed as "fake news".

“I just fired the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "He was insane, a real nut job", Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by a USA official.

Emphasizing that he wants to clear the air, Trump stated, "I want to get to the bottom if Russian Federation or anybody is trying to tamper or play with our election".

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The White House repeated its assertion that a “thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity.”.

Intercepted Russian communications suggest that Russian officials felt that they had built up such a strong relationship with Flynn that they could use him to influence Trump and his inner circle, CNN reported.

Since then, the Times has reported that Trump had vouched for ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, telling Comey that Flynn was a "good guy" and expressing hope that Comey could end his investigation into Flynn's contacts with the Russians.

The Post said its sources would not further identify the official, who was described as a person close to President Trump.

Trump added, "I'm not under investigation". The notes were taken from inside the office and circulated "as the official account of the meeting".

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Another report published by The Washington Post claimed that Trump had revealed highly classified details to Lavrov and the Russian ambassador during the same meeting at the Oval Office.

"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 said. Both stories indicate a marked escalation of the investigation since Mr Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor. Rosenstein said that though he was personally fond of Comey, "I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader".

The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The appointment of Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favorable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well.

The White House has struggled since Comey's firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and who exactly made the decision.

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"I believe it hurts our country terribly, because it shows we're a divided, mixed-up, not-unified country", Trump said at a luncheon with a group of television news anchors. Rosenstein denounced that decision as “profoundly wrong and unfair.”. The Russian President asked that they meet when he spoke with Trump earlier this month.

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