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Former FBI director Comey to testify publicly

20 May 2017, 01:35 | Taylor George

James Comey, the former FBI director whose firing by U.S. President Donald Trump last week triggered an uproar, will testify about his experiences with Trump and the FBI's investigation into Russia-Trump ties, lawmakers said on May 19.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Trump discussed the firing of Comey with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when Moscow's top diplomat visited the White House the day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief was dismissed.

The development will come as blow to White House efforts to dampen down interest in the Russian Federation investigation as Mr Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip as president.

Comey is expected to speak before the committee after May 29 - the end of Congress's Memorial Day break.

The ex-FBI chief has not spoken publicly since his surprise firing last week.

Top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner in a statement said, "I hope that former Director Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the president".

"The committee looks forward to receiving testimony from the former director on his role in the development of the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections, and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media", Burr said in a statement.

However, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Comey declined their invitation to testify before the panel over the circumstances surrounding his abrupt removal.

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Comey's commitment to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is not unexpected, despite what many believed to be a thinly veiled threat about taped conversations from President Trump via Twitter. Graham also called for Comey to testify before the Judiciary Committee. Investigators are shifting from work that has largely been hidden from the public to conducting interviews and asking for grand jury subpoenas, the Post reported, citing people familiar with the investigation.

The president's son-in-law Jared Kushner is among those whose contacts with the Russian government have come under scrutiny.

"I just fired the head of the F.B.I".

Also, the New York Times reported Friday that Trump had told top Russian diplomats who visited the Oval Office last week that firing Comey relieved "great pressure" on him.

The White House originally pointed to a recommendation from acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein criticizing Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server as the impetus for his departure.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not denied that this represents an accurate account of a part of that meeting.

Intercepted Russian communications suggest that Russian officials felt that they had built up such a strong relationship with Flynn that they could use him to influence Trump and his inner circle, CNN reported.

Journalist and author Max Blumenthal told RT that recent leaks to the media constituted "not just a steady drip", but "almost a tidal wave" coming from within the intelligence services and reported as from anonymous former and current United States officials.



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