White House adviser is person of interest in Russia probe

President Donald Trump shakes hands with James Comey director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House

"He was insane, a real nut job", Mr. Trump said the next day, according to a document summarizing the meeting shared with the Times by a USA government official.

Ex-FBI boss James Comey, who was sacked by Donald Trump, has agreed to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

US President Donald Trump has begun his first foreign trip as President with his White House engulfed in crisis and little prospect for a break from the drama disrupting his agenda.

He said he hopes Comey's testimony will answer some of the questions that have arisen since the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director was suddenly dismissed last week by US President Donald Trump.

It quoted unnamed sources familiar with the investigation as saying it was someone "close to the president" but they would not identify them further.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are also probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Donald Trump reportedly told his Russian guests that firing Mr Comey had relieved the "great pressure" his administration was under because of the Russia investigation.

Mr Comey is due to testify to an open session of the Senate Intelligence Committee after being fired from his position as head of the intelligence agency.

In that same conversation, Trump referred to Comey as "crazy" and "a real nut job", according to the Times.

The Trump administration is exploring whether it can use an obscure ethics rule to undermine the special counsel investigation into ties between President Donald Trump's campaign team and Russian Federation, two people familiar with White House thinking said on Friday.

The New York Times has reported that Trump asked Comey for his "loyalty" during a private dinner and requested he drop the investigation into Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser, who is under scrutiny regarding his ties to Russian Federation and Turkey.

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Trump met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to Washington in the Oval Office the day after he fired Comey, who was in charge of the Russia election probe.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", Mr Trump said.

"I respect the move", he said.

Asked point-blank if he'd done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, Trump said no - and then added of the lingering allegations and questions: "I think it's totally ridiculous". Trump aides said he never tried to squelch the Flynn investigation nor made inappropriate disclosures to the Russians.

But at his news conference, Mr Trump reverted to the White House's original claim that he was primarily responding to Mr Rosenstein's recommendation to dismiss Mr Comey.

Trump's decision to fire Comey two weeks ago has fed into a maelstrom for his presidency.

Before the latest reports, the White House had hoped to shift attention away from the political firestorm in Washington to foreign policy as well as the president's ambitious pro-business economic agenda in Congress.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the federal investigation in an effort to re-establish independence from the White House.

"It explicitly usurped the role of the attorney general, the deputy attorney general and the entire Department of Justice", Rosenstein said of that public announcement.

"We're extremely disappointed in James Comey's decision not to testify voluntarily before the Judiciary Committee". Sessions has recused himself from the Trump-Russia probe, citing his close involvement in the Trump campaign previous year.

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