White House may be looking to undermine special counsel's investigation

Former FBI Director James Comey has agreed to testify in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss his role in the investigation probing Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation engaged in computer hacking and propaganda meant to tip the election toward Trump.

The Post said the source of its information would not further identify the official who was described as being a person close to Trump.

House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in response to the reports "every day the president gives us more reason to believe that he does not respect the office that he holds". "I hope that former Director Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President", Warner said.

It did not deny the Times report that Trump was critical of Comey to the Russians the day after he fired him.

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

Contacted by the Times, White House press secretary Sean Spice did not deny Trump had made the statements, saying Comey's "grandstanding and politicizing" of the Russian Federation probe had put "unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation".

The details of his comments to the Russians would seem to bolster theories Mr Trump fired Mr Comey in an effort to choke off the Russia investigation.

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Trump was using a negotiating tactic when he told Russian officials about the "great pressure" he was under, another United States official defended the president to the Times, suggesting that Trump's goal was to create a sense of obligation with Russian officials and to coax concessions on certain issues.

On Thursday, Trump lashed out over the appointment of former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller as the special counsel to probe Trump-Russia ties, saying that it "divides country".

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

We know Trump is not happy with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's decision to appoint a special counsel. This week, Trump called the investigations a "witch hunt", in addition to releasing an official statement saying he looks forward to the "matter concluding quickly".

Several news reports have emerged in the wake of Comey's firing, alleging that Trump demanded "loyalty" from the former FBI director, asked him to "let" the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn go, and told Russian officials that Comey was "crazy" and a "nut job".

"No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly", he said.

The senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee says the panel should request White House documents related to the May 10 Oval Office meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian officials - and subpoena them if necessary.

The Washington Post reported earlier on Friday that the FBI has identified a White House official close to Trump as a person of interest in its Russian Federation investigation, and that the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks.

The Senate intelligence committee also asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to turn over any notes Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or Justice Department officials about Russia's efforts to influence the election.

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