Comey friend: Trump repeatedly tried to compromise former Federal Bureau of Investigation director

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.

Spicer denied that Trump fired Comey to block the Russian Federation investigation, saying, "the investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it".

Wittes said Comey had discussed several encounters with Trump that had troubled him, including a ceremony for law-enforcement officials in the Blue Room in January, two days after Trump was inaugurated.

Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week that Comey was a "nut job", according to the Times, citing notes taken at the meeting and read to the paper by a U.S. official.

The official said there was widespread agreement among staff that the appointment of Mueller provides Trump and his aides with the opportunity to "commit ourselves to doubling down on the agenda".

In the wake of his firing, there have been media reports that Trump had asked Comey in February to end an FBI investigation into the president's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn. "And I think it's a very, very negative thing".

The investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation will continue, but with a special prosecutor. "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.

The Times, citing a report on the meeting a source read to them, said that Trump told the Russians: "I just fired the head of the F.B.I. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations".

The Trump administration already was engulfed in crisis as the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation into Russian election meddling and whether anyone close to Trump colluded in the effort.

Wittes also shared Comey's side of a phone call the Federal Bureau of Investigation director had with the President, which Comey described "as weird for how substance-less it was" and included "an undercurrent of Trump's trying to get him to kiss the ring".

The Trump-Russia probe is now investigating a possible cover-up
But Democrats demanded answers on how he would conduct himself - and grilled him for his views on an independent investigation. Trump boarded Air Force One Friday without making any comment about the future leadership of the law enforcement agency.

"As the president has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity", said spokesman Sean Spicer.

The firm represents Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who have taken on White House jobs.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress Friday he stands by a memo he wrote bluntly criticizing Comey. "What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command", he said in a statement.

The Justice Department on Friday released the text of Rosenstein's opening remarks for the briefings on Capitol Hill.

Mueller's appointment raised questions about whether he would ask Congress to step away from its investigation, or whether the dual track would complicate issues such as calling witnesses or obtaining documents.

Massachusetts Democratic congressman Seth Moulton says Rosenstein didn't "do a lot to bolster our confidence in him".

Mueller was named to the post by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein. He thought that under those conditions, Trump might not spot him and call him out.

Bipartisan lawmakers had criticized Comey for his handling of investigations related to Trump and his electoral opponent Hillary Clinton. "Believe me, there's no collusion".

Trump on Wednesday expressed confidence that the Russian Federation investigation would yield no evidence of wrongdoing.

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