New Russia probe leaks threaten to derail Trump's foreign trip

Cheryl Sanders
May 21, 2017

Initially, the administration had claimed that the president had terminated Comey's employment based exclusively upon a recommendation from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

He's also expected to react to reports that President Donald Trump called him "a real nutjob" in a meeting with Russian diplomats.

"I just fired the head of the FBI He was insane, a real nut job", Mr Trump said, according to a document detailing the Russian visit.

Last week, the president warned Comey against leaking information to the media. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials last week that Comey is a "nutjob" and that firing him relieved the "pressure" of the Russia investigations.

The New York Times cited an unnamed U.S. official as its source for receiving the comments, which had been taken down in notes summarizing the meeting.

"I think the Flynn thing is where the president is very vulnerable personally", Pelosi told The Associated Press in an interview in her office. "He was insane, a real nut job", Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week, according to the Times, citing notes taken at the meeting and read to the paper by a United States official.

Numerous leaks, Blumenthal noted, were "related to Trump's conversations about his Russia policy and foreign policy in general", in order to stimulate "opposition" not just to a US-Russia detente, but to ultimately end with "nothing less than [Trump's] impeachment", Blumenthal said. "With each passing day, the President's actions give greater and greater urgency to the need for a full and independent investigation of the Trump-Russia connection". It also followed the subsequent disclosure Trump asked Comey to discontinue the investigation of his former National Security Officer Michael T. Flynn who had alleged ties with Russian officials.

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

"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation", he said. Cummings called Trump's reported comment "astonishing and extremely troubling". "Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations".

"Director Comey served his country with honour for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story".

Spicer offered a new explanation for the firing, saying that Trump had been trying to improve relations with Russian Federation - and Comey got in the way.

Since there has not been such a situation earlier, it could still be possible the newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller would object to the former FBI director speaking in public about an ongoing investigation.

Mueller, as special counsel, is "authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters", CNN reported, quoting a Justice Department order signed by the Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.

Senator Lindsey Graham said Thursday the appointment of a special counsel meant "Congress's ability to conduct investigations of all things Russian Federation has been severely limited".

Other reports by iNewsToday