Ryan backs Trump, cautions against 'rush to judgment'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov center Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides left and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland talk together prior to a session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers at the Filoxeni

House Speaker Paul Ryan said the appointment was consistent with his goal of ensuring that "thorough and independent investigations are allowed to follow the facts wherever they may lead".

Speaking at a news conference in Sochi, the Russian president declared that Trump did not share any secrets.

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday formally invited fired FBI Director James Comey to testify, and asked FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe for any memos or other notes the FBI possesses from Comey about his communications with administration officials.

Trump previously said that the investigation "should be over".

The New York Times first reported, and The Washington Post and other outlets confirmed, that Trump asked Comey to drop his probe into ties between Russian Federation and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to notes maintained by Comey.

Some Republicans ― including an unnamed White House official ― maintained on Wednesday that Trump was merely joking when he told Comey to lay off of Flynn, who was sacked earlier this year over his conversations with Russian officials before the president's inauguration.

Trump fired Flynn on February 13 on grounds that he had misled Vice-President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russians.

John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said late Tuesday that the developments had reached "Watergate size and scale".

Trump's terse denial followed reports by Reuters and other media about a memo written by Comey alleging that Trump made the request to close down the investigation into Michael Flynn and Russian Federation in February.

Even Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Republican who chairs the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, is starting to investigate the scandals surrounding President Trump.

While Trump's absence from Washington may give Republicans a breather from the controversies that have consumed the White House, Trump is entering an equally perilous zone.

"Memos, transcripts, tapes - the list keeps getting longer", he said.

The newspaper said Mr Comey was in the Oval Office that day with other national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing.

Putin said he was pleased with Lavrov's visit to Washington last week but mocked the idea that Trump had shared secrets during the meeting, calling the allegations "political schizophrenia" and saying people spreading them are either "dumb" or "corrupt". In addition Trump is facing pointed questions about his discussions with Russian diplomats during which he is reported to have disclosed classified information.

The group has pursued lawsuits against Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by continuing to take foreign payments as president. No Republicans, Baier said, were willing to go on camera and defend their president.

McClatchy's D.C. bureau reported on Wednesday that Flynn advised his predecessor, Susan Rice, to "hold off" on a plan to use Kurdish forces in Syria in an offensive to capture ISIS's capital, Raqqa.

Officials have told Reuters Trump's alleged disclosure of classified information to Russia's foreign minister is unlikely to stop allies who share intelligence with Washington from cooperating.

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