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20 May 2017, 02:01 | Darnell Patrick
Former FBI Director James Comey will testify in an open hearing before Congress, senators from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence announced Friday - giving Comey his first chance to publicly recount the events that led up to his sudden and unceremonious firing by President Donald Trump last week.
"I just fired the head of the FBI", Trump, according to a document read to the Times by an American official. "He was insane, a real nut job", Trump told Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov last week, according to the Times, citing notes taken at the meeting and read to the paper by a United States official.
During the meeting - in which Trump allegedly revealed classified information provided by Israel - the president reportedly said Comey's firing a day earlier had had relieved him of "great pressure" over his ties to Russian Federation.
One government official interviewed by the Times claimed Trump's talk of "pressure" was a negotiation tactic, meant to press upon Moscow that its meddling in the 2016 elections had raised problems for the president, and to induce Russian Federation into diplomatic concessions.
The White House says the notion that Trump fired Comey for investigating his and his campaign's alleged ties to Russian Federation is absurd.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the summary, saying in a statement that pressure applied by Comey had affected the President's diplomatic efforts with Russian Federation regarding Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State. "I also expect that Director Comey will be able to shed light on issues critical to this Committee's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election", said Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. "Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations".
The development comes after claims emerged that Mr Trump told Russian officials at the White House that firing Mr Comey relieved "great pressure" the President was facing from an ongoing probe into Russia and the USA presidential election.
Air Force One departed from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, outside Washington, with the president, first lady Melania Trump, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as a group of senior advisers and journalists covering the trip.
"As the president has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity", said Spicer.
Mr Rosenstein said, although he was personally fond of Mr Comey, "I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader". "This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration".
The exchange supports claims that Trump sacked Comey over the bureau's probe into possible collusion between the real estate mogul's campaign and Moscow.
The President maintains he was surprised by the response to Comey's firing.
"My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination", he said.
Stringing the timeline together, this exchange took place right as his White House staff, with only an hour's notice, began spinning the firing as the result of a recommendation made by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a memo criticizing Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails.
But he added: "I wrote it".
"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 as "profoundly wrong and unfair".
Trump has reacted furiously to the appointment of a special counsel, a prosecutor with wide authority to investigate Russias interference and other potential crimes uncovered.
Mr Trump clearly knew what he wanted to say as he took a few questions at a news briefing with visiting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
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