Trump reportedly called Comey a 'nut job' to Russian officials

The Post said its sources would not further identify the official, who was described as a person close to President Trump.

And insiders claimed conversations between Russian officials which were then picked up by intelligence agencies revealed they regarded Mr Flynn as an ally. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, as well as Cabinet members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Earlier on Friday Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended a memo he wrote criticising former Mr Comey, telling law makers on Capitol Hill that Mr Comey had "damaged public confidence in the Bureau and the Department".

It is unclear exactly how Mueller's leadership will affect the direction of the probe, and he is already bringing in new people to work on the team.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Donald Trump has shown his disrespect for the presidency if, as reported, he told Russian diplomats that FBI Director James Comey was a "nut job" whose firing relieves pressure on the president.

That flies in the face of the White House's public insistence that Comey's dismissal was not linked to his ongoing investigation.

The newspaper is citing unidentified people familiar with the investigation. FBI Director James Comey had publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation in March.

"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", the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, said in a statement on Friday. An FBI spokesman declined to comment.

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The news of a potential cover-up investigation came just hours after the Washington Post reported that an official now working in the Trump administration who is close to the president is a "significant person of interest" in the investigation.

Rosenstein only told House members that he appointed a special counsel to restore Americans' faith in the Russian Federation investigation, saying that interference in USA elections should not be a partisan issue.

Several lawmakers have expressed concerns that the new special counsel investigation may impede the congressional investigations.

"The President has always emphasized the importance of making deals with Russian Federation as it relates to Syria, Ukraine, defeating ISIS and other key issues for the benefit and safety of the American people".

In response to the story the White House said that Mr Comey's "grandstanding" and "politicising" of the Russian inquiry hurt diplomatic efforts with Moscow. Flynn stepped down after The Washington Post reported on the contents of the call.

The president has nonetheless seemed to defend his former adviser.

Trump met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to Washington in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey. Kushner also has acknowledged that he met with the head of a Russian development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been under US sanctions since July 2014.

No date has yet been set for the open session hearing, though the statement said it would take place after the Memorial Day holiday, May 29.

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