Trump denies asking Comey to drop probe, decries 'witch hunt'

Frederick Owens
May 20, 2017

The report is the latest revelation in the slow-motion vehicle crash unfurling at the White House, after Donald Trump reportedly shared highly classified information with Russian officials and allegedly pressured former FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's ties with Russia.

The White House initially sought to pin the decision to fire Comey on his handling of the FBI's investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonMueller shouldn't forget to investigate Clinton's Russian Federation ties during Trump probe House Intel panel requests Comey memos Russian Federation tried to take over Pentagon Twitter accounts: report MORE's use of a private email server while secretary of State.

As previously reported, Trump's team also set up a dinner meeting with Comey where the President is reported to have demanded loyalty of the FBI Director.

Trump began the day by tweeting that he is the victim of "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history", a claim ignoring impeachment efforts and blistering verbal attacks on previous presidents and other political leaders.

"I think it's totally ridiculous - everybody thinks so, and again we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have", Trump said. The FBI's probe includes examining whether any Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russian Federation to help swing the election in Trump's favor.

The broad federal probe under Mueller, a lawman who engenders deep bipartisan respect, was just getting underway.

Elsewhere, senators held a closed-door briefing with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, after which Sen.

The House intelligence committee announced that it had asked for documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department. Flynn, through his lawyer, had earlier asked for immunity from "unfair prosecution" in exchange for agreeing to cooperate with the committee.

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"This was a very good first step".

There was confusion during the day surrounding Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who has emerged as a central figure because of his own ties to Russian Federation, which led to his dismissal early on in the Trump administration. "Mr. Rosenstein has done the right thing", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said on the Senate floor.

Asked about possible obstruction of justice, Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters the special counsel would "follow the facts where ever they may lead" and that "it is premature to prejudge anything at this point".

Comey succeeded him, appointed by Obama. By several senators' accounts, he contradicted Trump's statements that Rosenstein's written criticism of FBI Director James Comey had been a factor in Comey's recent firing by the president.

In another Twitter post Thursday, Trump said: "With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel (sic) appointed!"

Trump is leaving Friday for his first foreign trip, to the Mideast and beyond, and aides had hoped the disarray at home would have been calmed if not resolved, allowing the White House to refocus and move ahead.

Republicans have largely stood behind Trump in the first months of his presidency as the FBI and congressional investigations into Russia's election meddling intensified.

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