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Trump Called Comey 'Nut Job;' Russia Probe Identifies Current White House Staffer
20 May 2017, 02:53 | Darnell Patrick
James Henrikson trial
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter. According to the report, Trump called Comey a "nut job" to two Russian officials he met with last week, and is reported to have also shared classified information with the officials during the same meeting.
Friday's report quotes Trump calling ousted FBI Director James Comey "crazy" and "a real nut job".
The Timesreported on Friday that Trump told the Russians he "faced great pressure" because of the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling. In a reported memo, Comey allegedly says Trump asked him to let the probe into Flynn go.
While the public has seen the aftermath many times in an endlessly repeated video clip that shows Trump greeting a smiling Comey at a January 22 White House event for law enforcement officials who provided security during the inauguration, the minor drama leading up to it has not been told and proves the adage that videos alone can be woefully, and perhaps hilariously, misleading. So the White House set about saying this was Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein's decision and issued a memo from him focused exclusively on the Clinton investigation.
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. Trump is scheduled to meet with Saudi King Salman, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron. But Trump later contradicted the original narrative when he said that he made the decision alone after considering several factors, including what he termed the "Russia thing". "I stand by it", Rosenstein said Friday during his closed-door session with lawmakers at the House of Representatives.
Trump also has suggested hefired Comey in part because of his investigation into Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
"What's significant is that he's saying that there was pressure, and he got rid of it", Toobin said.
"There was considerable frustration in the room", said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee.
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"Right at the end, Trump singles him out in a fashion that he regarded as sort of calculated", Wittes continued.
Rosenstein made it clear to the lawmakers that he drafted his memo only after Trump told him of his plans to dismiss the Federal Bureau of Investigation director.
"He did acknowledge that he learned Comey would be removed prior to him writing his memo", sais Sen. "My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination", he said.
The billionaire property mogul added: "I'm not under investigation".
A July 5, 2016 press conference in which Comey sharply criticized Clinton's behavior but exonerated her of any legal wrong-doing was "profoundly wrong and unfair", Rosenstein told Congress, to both the Department of Justice, which Comey had not notified before holding the press conference, and to Clinton.
Senators said Mr Rosenstein steered clear of specifics while making clear Mr Mueller has wide latitude to pursue the investigation wherever it leads, potentially including criminal charges.
Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has also landed on investigators' radar for meeting privately with Sergey Gorkov, the CEO of a Russian state-owned bank, during the transition.
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Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to take over the case, citing the need to insulate the probe from political interference. Republican Representative Charlie Dent said there was no question the Russians meddled in the election.