White House fights reports over Trump asking Comey to end Flynn probe

Several committees in Congress were quickly moving to address the Comey memo story Wednesday. Republicans would likely be better off if Trump were pushed off the stage.

Asked what he thinks of the Trump presidency, Mr Putin said it is up to the American people to judge and his performance can be rated "only when he's allowed to work at full capacity", implying that someone is hampering Mr Trump's efforts. Director overseeing a lawful investigation of the President's campaign ties to Russian influence in the President's 2016 Election.

President Putin deployed his trademark sarcasm on Wednesday to make clear he thought the accusation that Trump had divulged secrets absurd.

Kislyak was with Lavrov at the White House when Trump disclosed the sensitive information.

But even before Comey's possible "paper trail" documenting President Trump's demands (which may or may not actually rise to the level of impeachable offense) came to light, his enemies were out in force. "Zero", Trump said during the press conference. Yates was sacked soon after because, the White House said, she refused to defend the president's travel ban in court. Only the U.S. Senate can do this after a trial.

Russian state agency Tass quickly posted pictures that have since become infamous, of Mr Trump, Mr Lavrov and Mr Kislyak smiling and apparently sharing jokes, at a time when Russia had been accused by USA intelligence of interfering in last year's U.S. election and the May 7 French presidential election as well.

The release of Comey memos and other materials to Congress would immediately change the nature of congressional investigations into the president and Russian Federation.

Republican Senator Richard Burr, the committee chairman, and the assistant chairman, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, announced in a statement that they had sent a new letter to Comey, who had rejected their previous invitation because he wanted to testify in public, not exclusively in private.

"We need the facts".

"Drama is not helpful in getting things done", he added.

The person who described the Comey memo to the AP was not authorized to discuss it by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. "The White House has put out a statement very clearly with our account", he said.

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Revelations that President Donald Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation before firing him have sparked a debate about whether or not Trump's actions were an obstruction of justice.

His contacts with Mr Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn had ultimately led Mr Flynn to resign.

"Charges of obstruction of justice have been a staple of the last two substantial attempts to impeach a president", William Yeomans, fellow in law and government at American University, wrote recently in column for "The Hill".

When Trump fired Comey, he said he did so based on Comey's very public handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and how it affected his leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

If Republicans pull off victories in upcoming special House elections in Georgia, Montana and SC, they'll likely be even more encouraged to stay the course with Trump.

Trump removed Comey in the middle of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged Russian interference in the the 2016 USA presidential election, and possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russia.

The Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees have requested copies of Comey's memos detailing conversations with Trump, and the intelligence panel on Wednesday invited Comey to testify both behind closed doors and in a public session.

But the swirling questions about his conduct were clearly on his mind when he told graduates at the US Coast Guard Academy in CT that "no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly".

Mr Trump said: "I hope you can let this go", according to a memo written by Mr Comey. Comey said he replied that "I agree he is a good guy" but said nothing to Trump about limiting the investigation.

The White House had denied the accuracy of reports that the President had told the Russians of a terror plot involving laptop computers on trains. "But I think we're in impeachment territory now for the first time". He used that phrase nine times in his briefing to reporters.

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