James Comey Declines to Testify Before Senate Panel

Soon after tweeting the threat to Comey, Trump invoked former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who testified before the Senate earlier this week that he was not aware of any evidence demonstrating collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian Federation. According to an account of the conversation which Comey conveyed to some associates, he told the president he could not give that pledge.

The White House initially said Comey was sacked on the recommendation of the two top officials at the Justice Department. "He said it once at dinner, and then he said it twice during phone calls".

Mr Schumer said he hoped that Mr Sessions would also speak to senators separately on the firing of Mr Comey. But Trump pressed him on whether it would be "honest loyalty".

"You will have that", Comey told his associates he responded. After all, Trump has made much less cryptic claims on Twitter about things that were entirely untrue, like his claims of widespread voter fraud or his accusation that President Obama had wiretapped him.

The only in-person instance Trump described was a conversation at a "nice dinner" in which the president's status was discussed. Spicer was asked if Trump recorded the conversations and if there is recording equipment in the White House. But amid the tweets about fake news and a threat to cancel all press briefings, the tweet directed to Comey still stood out.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed the report. "We'll see what happens", Trump said. "The integrity of our law enforcement agencies and their leadership is of the utmost importance to President Trump".

"I was going to fire him regardless of recommendations", Trump told NBC in an interview, after days in which the White House has struggled to convince Congress members and the United States public that the move was not politically motivated. In Trump's telling, Comey reassured him that he was not.

Trump to meet Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov
Nevertheless, Lavrov struck a conciliatory tone and said Russian Federation isn't intending to retaliate. Lavrov said Trump was seeking "mutually beneficial" and "pragmatic" relations with Russian Federation .

That startling admission fanned suggestions that Trump may be interfering with the investigation and promoted Comey allies to refute Trump's account of events.

Trump also threatened to cancel the daily news briefing at the White House, a longstanding practice, as he tried to assume control of the media coverage of Comey's firing for reasons that have continued to shift and change, reflecting a White House in complete chaos.

Trump also appeared to be unhappy with press reports about shifting White House explanations of Comey's firing. That investigation has since gained momentum as investigators have developed new evidence and leads.

In a report that added to critics' charges that Trump has overstepped the norms of his office, the New York Times reported that the president asked Comey in January to pledge loyalty to him, a request that would undermine the standing of the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief as an independent law enforcer.

The dinner at which the conversation Comey related took place was on January 27th, nearly a month later. But Comey went because he did not believe he could turn down a meeting with the new president.

And acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe declined comment when he was asked if Trump was given assurances on that matter.

"We finally agree on something Rosie", Trump said, sharing O'Donnell's tweet from December 20, 2016, in which she advocated for Comey to be fired.

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