Comey agrees to testify before Senate Intel Committee

US President Donald Trump in the West Wing of the White House in Washington DC

As President Trump takes off today for his first worldwide trip as commander-in-chief, The New York Times and The Washington Post dropped two new reports on the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Comey's handling of the investigation, including his several conversations with Trump since his election, has taken on added importance since his dismissal and subsequent reports that the president had asked Comey to shut down part of the inquiry, and then later called him a "nut job" in meetings with Russian officials.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the account.

Separately, a Washington Post report, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, said a senior Trump adviser was now considered a "person of interest" in the law enforcement investigation into whether Mr Trump's campaign associates coordinated with Russian Federation in an effort to sway the 2016 election. "The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former Director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media", Burr said.

The developments were a blow to White House efforts to tamp down interest in the Russian Federation investigation as Mr Trump and his staff boarded Air Force One for Saudi Arabia - the first stop on his first foreign trip as President.

But on May 8 - the day before Rosenstein drafted that three-page memo, he told lawmakers - he had learned of Trump's intention to remove Comey from the job.

Mr Rosenstein told Congress he stands by a memo he wrote bluntly criticising Mr Comey.

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In the remarks, Rosenstein said he learned a day before Comey's firing that Trump wanted to dismiss him.

Robert Mueller, who served as FBI chief under George W Bush, was appointed this week as special counsel for the investigation.

Moreover, the White House has not ruled out the possibility of using the rule to challenge Mueller's findings in court, should the investigation lead to prosecution.

"My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination", he said. "I don't think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today". Trump has insisted at times that the decision was his alone, but he also has pointed - as recently as Thursday - to the "very strong" recommendation from Rosenstein.

Trump has reacted furiously to the appointment.

On Capitol Hill, Rosenstein said that he and Attorney General Jeff Sessions had "discussed the need for new leadership at the FBI" in one of their first meetings, and that he believed Comey had damaged the credibility of the bureau and the Justice Department through the Clinton case.

Burr says the committee wants to hear from Comey on his role in the development of the US intelligence agencies' assessment that Russian Federation interfered in last year's election. His role in the probe came to a screeching halt when Trump fired him 10 days ago - though a paper trail of memos he left behind has suggested the administration's attempts to derail the investigation.

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