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Senior White House aide 'person of interest' in Russian Federation probe

20 May 2017, 02:51 | Marion Schneider

On Thursday, the Justice Department said a special counsel had been appointed to look into allegations of Russian interference in last year's election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.

That would surely include Trump's firing of Comey.

Comey had courted controversy during the 2016 presidential polls when he revealed a renewed investigation into Hillary Clinton's email use, which the Democrats claimed had hurt her chances of becoming the president. They have, however, also jumped in with both feet on nearly any anonymous story linking this administration with Russia, spreading tales of electrical grids being hacked and breathlessly repeating reports "proving" Russian interference in USA elections, many of which have been found to be totally without merit.

On a day the administration hoped that Trump could leave scandalous allegations at home as he began his first trip overseas as president, the development was unwelcome at the White House.

The White House has disputed Comey's account of his February conversation with Trump concerning Flynn but has not offered specifics. Trump has denied that ever happened.

At first, the White House said Trump fired Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Comey's handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton previous year. "He was insane, a real nut job".

The acting Federal Bureau of Investigation director, Andrew McCabe, has called the case "highly significant" but said there had been no effort by the White House to impede the inquiry.

"There is no reason he can't testify before both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, particularly given that the Judiciary Committee is the FBI's primary oversight committee", Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote in a statement.

He continues, "Comey regards his predecessor as a mentor, while Mueller considers Comey his protégé".

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The Times report added to the impression given by Trump himself in a television interview last week in which he said the Russian Federation issue was a factor in firing Comey.

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

While speaking with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Trump reportedly said, "I faced great pressure because of Russia".

Trump has repeatedly slammed the FBI and congressional investigations as a "hoax" and blamed disgruntled officials at intelligence agencies for leaking information related to the probes. "Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations".

FILE- In this March 7, 2017, file photo, then-Deputy Attorney General-designate Rod Rosenstein, listens on Capitol Hill in Washington, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Committee leaders said on Friday he would appear sometime after the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on May 29. "I believe it. I stand by it".

The President of the United States disclosed more to Russian officials than the American public.

Trump has reacted furiously to the appointment of a special counsel, a prosecutor with wide authority to investigate Russia's interference and other potential crimes uncovered.



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