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Firing 'crazy' Comey eased pressure, Trump told Russian foreign minister

May 20, 2017 10:15 IST

United States President Donald Trump told Russian officials at an Oval Office meeting last week that firing Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey eased pressure on him as he was a ‘real nut job’ and ‘crazy’, a media report claimed on Saturday.

"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump told Russian minister Sergei Lavrov and the country's Ambassador to the US, the Times reported, citing minutes of the meeting between Trump and the Russians.

According to the US daily, the quotes and other excerpts from the minutes was readout to its correspondent by a Trump administration official.

Another, on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the quotes from the said document.

‘I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off...I am not under investigation,’ he was quoted as saying by said the daily.

The White House did not comment on the authenticity of Trump’s conversation with the Russian officials in the Oval Office on May 9.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told The New York Times in a statement that Comey had behaved politically and put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State. 

"By grandstanding and politicising the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Spicer said.

He said the investigation would have always continued, and the termination of Comey would not have ended it.

"Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations,” he added.

According to the daily, a Trump Administration official defended President's purported conversation with the Russians as he wanted to a create a ‘sense of obligation’ with them and to coax concessions out of them on Syria, Ukraine, and other issues.

The latest crisis to beset Trump comes days after an another revelation by the daily which claimed that the President has asked sacked Comey to end the agency’s investigation into ties between his former national security adviser Mike Flynn and Russia.

Comey was abruptly fired by Trump at a time when he was leading an investigation into whether Trump's election campaign had links with Russia in the US polls last year.

Another report published by The Washington Post claimed that Trump had revealed highly classified details to Lavrov and the Russian ambassador during the same meeting at the Oval Office.

Meanwhile, CNN reported that the Russian officials bragged that they could use Flynn to influence Trump.

"This was a five-alarm fire from early on....the way the Russians were talking about him,” an official of the previous Obama administration said.

‘Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem,’ CNN reported.

The White House, however, denied such allegations.

‘We are confident that when these inquiries are complete there will be no evidence to support any collusion between the (Trump) campaign and Russia,’ an official said in a statement to CNN.

‘This matter is not going to distract the President or this administration from its work to bring back jobs and keep America safe,’ the official added.


Comey to testify in US Congress

Sacked FBI director James Comey has agreed to testify before a Congressional committee in an open session about alleged Russian interference in the US presidential polls last year.

A date of this open hearing would be scheduled after the Memorial Day, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said on Friday.

“The Committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former (FBI) director on his role in the development of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 US elections,” Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Committee, said.

Comey's abrupt sacking by Trump triggered a political firestorm with an angry opposition calling for an appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged Russian influence in last year's general elections.

The president's move came days after Comey testified in Capitol Hill about the FBI's investigation into Russia’s meddling into the US elections and a possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

"I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media,” Burr said.

Senator Mark Warner, ranking member of the Committee, hoped that Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since he was fired by Trump last week.

"I also expect that director Comey will be able to shed light on issues critical to this Committee's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election," he said.

"Comey served his country with honour for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story. Moreover, the American people deserve an opportunity to hear it," Warner said. 

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