Trump faces fallout over Comey appeal, intelligence sharing

Russian President Vladimir Putin

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

FILE - In this February 1, 2017 file photo, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington. Trump said, so that he can focus on issues like jobs, the military, and health care.

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan insisted that Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, were not seeing their legislative agenda mired, but the controversy enveloped Washington. Trump later admitted in a television interview about Comey's firing that he was bothered by "this Russian Federation thing" and said he would have fired Comey regardless of the Justice Department recommendation.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also argued an independent commission would have the resources necessary to fully investigate the president's actions.

Democrats badgered Republicans to stand up to the president, and demanded access to the transcripts of Trump's meeting last week with two Russian diplomats.

"No. No. Next question", Trump responded curtly to a reporter during a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday afternoon. Yet U.S. allies and some members of Congress expressed concern bordering on alarm. He dismissed outrage over Trump's disclosures as US politicians whipping up "anti-Russian sentiment".

Ryan said Congress needs to get the facts, but "it is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president". A Comey associate was quite specific to the Wall Street Journal: "Comey was careful not to release information to the president about the ongoing probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the US election because he believed doing so would cross ethical and legal boundaries". How many memos did Comey write? Comey, who was known to keep a paper trail of sensitive meetings, chronicled the president's request in a memo he produced soon after the conversation, according to a Comey associate who reviewed the document and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo. Mark Warner, as well as asking Comey to testify.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Flynn and other Trump campaign advisers were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the presidential race.

The intensifying drama comes as Trump is set to embark Friday on his first foreign trip, which had been optimistically viewed by some aides as an opportunity to reset an administration floundering under an inexperienced president.

When Trump fired Comey, he said he did so based on Comey's very public handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and how it affected his leadership of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Rosenstein's apparent comments would directly contradict the White House's explanation for Comey's abrupt dismissal last Tuesday. He also urged agents investigating Russia's meddling in the election not to worry about politics or how their probe might affect those in power. The White House is disputing a report that President Donald Trump asked Comey to shut down an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump later said in an interview with NBC News he was going to fire Comey regardless of Rosenstein's recommendation.

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

It turns out Comey has his own records of those conversations. He used that phrase nine times in his briefing to reporters.

The information had been supplied by a USA ally in the fight against the Islamic State militant group, the officials said. Trump later said he had already chose to dismiss him and was thinking of "this Russian Federation thing".

Associated Press writers Vivian Salama and Jill Colvin contributed.

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