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Last updated on May 15, 2017, at 4:20 a.m. ET

Posted on May 10, 2017, at 12:04 p.m. ET

Live Updates: Trump Narrowing Search For Next FBI Director After Comey Firing

President Trump's firing of the man overseeing an investigation into his election campaign has stunned Washington and plunged the White House into crisis. Follow all the latest developments here.

REUTERS/Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool, Gary Cameron/File Photo

What We Know So Far:

  • President Donald Trump said Saturday that the administration would make a "fast decision" on a new FBI director, possibly before he leaves on his first overseas trip at the end of next week. Eight candidates interviewed for the position Saturday.
  • Press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday refused to deny that Trump secretly records conversations in the White House.
  • In a Twitter rant Friday morning, Trump threatened former FBI Director James Comey not to leak to the press and hinted at secret tapes: "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
  • Lawyers representing Trump say his tax returns from the last 10 years show he has no "income of any type from Russian sources" with a few exceptions, although they declined to make the tax returns available for public scrutiny.
  • Trump contradicted his own spokespeople on Thursday, saying he was thinking about the FBI's investigation into his campaign's alleged ties to Russia when he fired Director James Comey.
  • The acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, contradicted the White House twice on Thursday: McCabe said Comey was held in the "absolute highest regard" by FBI agents, and that the bureau's Russia investigation was "highly significant."
  • In the wake of the firing scandal, a second House Republican has signed on to legislation calling for a nonpartisan, independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • Days before he was dismissed, Comey asked the Justice Department for more resources to investigate the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, according to multiple reports. But McCabe said he was not aware of any such request.

Updates

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Former US intelligence chief says American democracy is "under assault"

Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Former US intelligence chief James Clapper warned Sunday that the country's democratic institutions are "under assault" by the Trump administration in the wake of the president's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

"I worry about our institutions, which I think are under attack, both from external sources and for that matter internal," Clapper said in an interview with CBS scheduled to air Monday. Asked if he was referring to the White House, Clapper agreed, adding that he was concerned about the "current atmospherics" and its potential effects on the government's system of "checks and balances."

Earlier Sunday, the former director of national intelligence also pushed back against Donald Trump's characterization of his Senate testimony last week, in which Clapper said he had not seen evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with Russians during the 2016 election. In tweets, Trump singled out the remarks as evidence that there was "no collusion."

"The bottom line is I don't know if there was collusion," Clapper told CNN. "I don't know of any evidence to it. So I can't refute it, and I can't confirm it."

His comments added to a Greek chorus of lawmakers who appeared on cable news this weekend to express their alarm over how Trump handled Comey's firing, including his suggestion that he may have secretly recorded conversations with the former FBI director. High-profile senators from both parties — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee — said Sunday that any such tapes would need to be handed over to Congress, and also called for the president to appoint an apolitical successor to lead the FBI. —Grace Wyler

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FBI Agents Association endorses Mike Rogers for next director, as Trump signals decision possible this week

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

A group representing current and former FBI agents on Saturday urged President Donald Trump to nominate Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to replace fired director James Comey.

The FBI Agents Association, which says it represents more than 13,000 active duty and retired agents, endorsed Rogers, a former FBI agent himself and a Republican congressman from Michigan from 2001–2015, saying he exemplified the principles that should be possessed by the bureau's next director.

"Rogers' unique and diverse experience will allow him to effectively lead the men and women of the Bureau as we work to protect our country from criminal and terrorist threats," said association President Thomas O'Connor in a statement. "During his time in Congress he showed a commitment to confronting threats to our country in a nonpartisan and collaborative manner."

Sources told NBC News on Thursday that Trump was considering Rogers, who briefly served on his presidential transition team. Rogers was one of eight candidates interviewed for the position at the Department of Justice Saturday.

Democrats have indicated they will only support the nomination of a candidate who is independent from the Trump administration.

Trump told reporters on Saturday morning he was considering some "outstanding people" for the role.

"We can make a fast decision," he said, suggesting a decision may even be made before he leaves for his first foreign trip on Friday.

In addition to Rogers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein interviewed seven other candidates for the FBI job Saturday, including Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn; acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, white-collar defense attorney Alice Fisher; New York State Court of Appeals judge Michael Garcia, Adam Lee, the special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Richmond, Virginia; former Bush Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend; and US District Judge Henry Hudson.

The White House is also considering South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican, and former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, among others, according to the Associated Press.

—Grace Wyler and David Mack

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Interviews to begin Saturday for Comey's replacement as FBI director

Justice Department officials will begin interviewing candidates Saturday to head up the FBI and replace recently ousted director James Comey.

A source familiar with the situation confirmed to BuzzFeed News that four people will be interviewed:

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican

Susan Walsh / AP

Former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

And Judge Michael Garcia, of the New York Court of Appeals

Hans Pennink / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will conduct the interviews, Politico reported. However, according to Fox News the Trump administration is considering almost a dozen different candidates to fill Comey's former position.

Once the Trump administration chooses a replacement for Comey, the Senate will have to confirm that person.

—Jim Dalrymple II

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Trump denies asking Comey for loyalty, argues it wouldn't be a problem if he did

View this video on YouTube

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President Trump denied Friday that he asked former FBI director James Comey to pledge his loyalty, but said that such a request would not be inappropriate.

Trump made the comments during an interview with Fox News' Jeanine Pirro, who asked him about reports that he sought a loyalty pledge from Comey during a private dinner in January.

Trump replied that he didn't make such a request, but wasn't against it either.

"No, no I didn't," Trump said of the alleged request. "But I don't think it would be a bad question to ask. I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important."

Pirro later asked Trump about speculation that he might have privately recorded conversations with Comey — speculation Trump himself ignited Friday morning after tweeting that the now-former FBI director "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations."

"I can't talk about that, I won't talk about that," Trump replied. "AlI I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be. I'm sure he will be I hope."

—Jim Dalrymple II

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Comey declines invitation to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Former FBI director James Comey has declined an invitation to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Speaking to MSNBC, the vice chairman of the committee, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, said that while Tuesday's closed-door appearance was off, they hoped to schedule him again "in the not too distant future."

It would have marked Comey's first appearance before the Senate panel as a private citizen since being unceremoniously fired by President Trump on Tuesday.

Also on Friday, the Republican chairman of the Senate committee, Sen. Richard Burr, told reporters in his home state of North Carolina that he had yet to see any evidence of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, the Associated Press reported.

—Jason Wells

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Trump repeats threat to cancel White House press briefings

SATURDAY: @JudgeJeanine goes one-on-one with @POTUS - Tune in at 9p ET on Fox News Channel! https://t.co/RCo53lPjT9

President Trump on Friday repeated his threat to cancel White House press briefings, saying he was too fast for his communications staff to keep up and that journalists were too hostile.

On Friday morning, Trump suggested he should cancel briefings by his press secretaries because it is not possible for his "surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy" because he is "very active."

In an interview taped on Friday with Fox News, Trump doubled down on the threat to cancel the news briefings.

"I actually said, 'we shouldn't have them,'" he said, adding a minute later that "what I'd love to do is stop them."

View this video on YouTube

youtube.com

Trump also cited what he called hostile journalists and raised the prospect of less frequent briefings.

"Well, just don't have them," he said. "Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don't have them."

"You have a level of hostility that's incredible and it's very unfair," he told Jeanine Pirro, a pro-Trump commentator. "Sarah Huckabee is a lovely, young woman. You know Sean Spicer, he is a wonderful human being, he's a nice man."

Trump also said that the press conferences by his White House "are, like, biggest thing on daytime television."

"You see the ratings, they're blowing away everything on, just about I think everything, on daytime television," Trump said.

At another point, he called the TV ratings "tremendous," then said that the "fake media" was "going crazy." He also said Obama's press conferences "weren't even covered" and aired on "CSPAN and CSPAN 2 and there was nothing going on."

Trump said that "another president," who he declined to name, spent his days in the Oval Office doing "practically nothing all day."

Read more here. —David Mack

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White House refuses to deny Trump secretly tapes conversations

Here is Sean Spicer responding to the first three questions in a row with "The president has nothing further to add… https://t.co/aIaeL5FoRu

Press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday refused to answer questions on whether President Trump secretly records conversations in the White House.

In response to three questions about a tweet Trump posted on Friday morning, in which the president warned ex–FBI director James Comey not to leak information to the press and "better hope there are no 'tapes' of our conversations," Spicer said simply, "The president has nothing further to add."

When asked if the tweet was a threat to Comey, Spicer said, "I don't think that was a threat. He simply stated a fact. The tweet speaks for itself. I'm moving on."

In an interview with Fox News' Jeanine Pirro that was set to air Saturday, Trump also refused to expand on the tweet.

"I won't talk about that," he said. "All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be and I'm sure he will be, I hope."

The press secretary also denied reports that Trump asked Comey to personally pledge loyalty to him during a dinner the pair shared in January.

Friday's briefing was held after Trump earlier tweeted it "is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy."

In response to questions about the tweet, Spicer talked about the long hours he and other communications staff work, arguing it was not possible to always speak with the president to obtain first hand information.

The president's suggestion that he may also cancel daily press briefings was made because "he's a little dismayed, as well as a lot of people, that we come out here and try to do everything we can to provide you and the American people with what he's doing on their behalf," Spicer said, adding, "and yet, we see time and time again an attempt to parse every little word and make it more of a game of gotcha."

When a reporter asked whether the president's tweets and his perceived threat to Comey were evidence Trump was "out of control," Spicer said the suggestion was "frankly, offensive."

—David Mack

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Clapper says he can't say whether there was Trump campaign collusion with Russia, contradicting the president

When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?

James Clapper said he did not know if there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, contradicting Trump's tweet on Friday.

In a Twitter rant on Friday, Trump claimed that Clapper — the former director of National Intelligence — had said that there was no collusion.

However, a few hours later, Clapper told MSNBC, "I don't know if there was collusion or not."

"I don't know if there was evidence of collusion or not, nor should I have in this particular context," Clapper said.

He confirmed that the investigation into the collusion was "out of his scope" and that he had "left it to the judgement of the FBI."

He also said that he did not believe that the Russian probe was a "witch hunt" as characterized by Trump.

Clapper also contradicted Trump's version of events at a dinner between the president and Comey, a week after he was sworn in as president.

Trump claimed that the dinner was Comey's idea, and also denied reports that he had asked Comey to pledge his loyalty during the dinner.

On Friday, the president suggested there were "tapes" of the conversation he had with Comey.

Clapper said that Comey told him he was "uneasy about the optics" of having dinner with Trump.

He said that Comey told him he had been invited to the White House to have dinner with the president.

"He was uneasy with that because of...even the optics, the appearance of independence, not only of him, but of the FBI," Clapper said.

He also contradicted the White House's statement that the "rank and file of the FBI" had lost confidence in Comey.

"From my vantage... the morale in the FBI was very high, and I can attest personally —because I witnessed it — the very high esteem and respect people in the FBI had, and still have, for Jim Comey."

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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Trump's lawyers say he has no income from Russians — "with a few exceptions"

video-cdn.buzzfeed.com

Lawyers representing President Trump say his tax returns from the last 10 years show he has no "income of any type from Russian sources" with a few exceptions, although they declined to make the tax returns available for public scrutiny.

In a letter sent to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the head of one of the congressional committees investigating Russian meddling in the US presidential election, Trump's lawyers also said the president and his company owe no debt to any Russians, nor does Trump have any equity in Russian entities.

The lawyers note three exceptions: $12.2 million of income earned from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant Trump held in Moscow, the 2008 sale of a Trump property in Florida to a Russian billionaire, and "ordinary course sales of goods or services to Russians or Russian entities" the Trump organization likely engaged in, such as hotel room rentals or product sales.

Without Trump releasing his tax returns, the lawyers' statements cannot be independently verified.

Letter from Trump's lawyer denying he has Russian investments or debt — "with a few exceptions" (note: we can't ver… https://t.co/9RF8j1yRkz

In his interview with NBC on Thursday, Trump mentioned sending the letter to Graham and said he had "nothing to do with Russia."

"I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever," he said. "I don't have property in Russia."

Trump mentioned the sale of the Florida property and the Miss Universe pageant, but maintained "other than that I have nothing to do with Russia."

In 2008, Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., told a travel industry website, "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia."

—David Mack

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Trump tells the Twitterverse not to trust his spokespeople

As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!....

In a Twitter rant on Friday, Trump told his millions of followers not to assume that his White House officials were providing accurate information about his policies and actions

Trump also bizarrely suggested canceling all press briefings and replacing them with written responses for "the sake of accuracy."

His tweets came after his top two spokespeople, Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders, offered contradictory timelines of the events leading to Comey's firing before Trump himself offered a third version of the events.

Read more here. —Tom Namako

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Trump threatens Comey not leak to press, hints at "tapes"

James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!

In a tweet on Friday, the president threatened Comey not to leak their conversations to the press, suggesting that they might have been taped.

The White House dismissed reports on Thursday that Trump asked Comey twice to pledge his loyalty to him during a private dinner that Trump requested a week after he was sworn in as president.

When Trump asked Comey whether he would pledge his loyalty to him, Comey declined, instead assuring the president that he would be honest with him, according to a New York Times account of the dinner.

In an NBC interview, however, Trump offered a different version of events, where Comey requested the meeting, and where there was no conversation about pledging loyalty.

On Friday, Trump threatened Comey not to leak their conversations to the press by suggesting their discussions could be on "tapes."

It is unclear if the president was suggesting that he had taped their conversations or if Comey had. —Tasneem Nashrulla

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20 state attorneys general ask for special prosecutor in Russia investigation

Democratic Attorneys General Association
Democratic Attorneys General Association

Twenty Democratic state attorneys general signed a letter on Thursday calling for an independent investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The letter was sent to the Department of Justice's deputy district attorney, Rod Rosenstein, and called for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

"As the chief law enforcement officers of our respective states, we view the President's firing of FBI Director James Comey in the middle of his investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election as a violation of the public trust," the letter stated. "As prosecutors committed to the rule of law, we urge you to consider the damage to our democratic system of any attempts by the administration to derail and delegitimize the investigation."

The letter was also sent to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which are conducting their own inquiries into Russian election meddling.

—Claudia Koener

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Trump says he was thinking about Russian investigation when he decided to fire Comey

NBC

President Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt he was thinking about the FBI's investigation into Russia interference in the US election when he decided to fire James Comey.

Trump, who was explaining his decision during an interview that aired Thursday night, also said that regardless of the recommendations from the attorney general and his deputy, Comey's direct superior, he had already made up his mind.

"I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it," Trump said. "And in fact, when I decided to do it I said to myself, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.'"

The White House and Trump surrogates have repeatedly said the FBI's investigation into Russian involvement in the presidential election played no role in Trump's decision to fire Comey, but the president's own rundown of his decision contradicts that.

Trump tells NBC News he was thinking about the Russian investigation when he fired Comey

Trump repeatedly told Holt that he had no connection to Russia and neither he, nor his campaign, colluded with the Russian government during the presidential election. In fact, he added, he wants the investigation "speeded up."

"Look, I have nothing to do with it," Trump said. "This was set up by the Democrats. There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians."

To stress the point, Trump said he had also sent a certified letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham asserting he has no financial ties to Russia after the Senate Intelligence Committee requested information from the Treasury Department regarding Trump and his businesses' finances.

"I just sent a letter to Lindsey Graham from one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, a tremendous highly rated law firm, that I have nothing to do with Russia," the president said. "I have no investments in Russia. None whatsoever."

Graham's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Trump digs up, and shares, an old tweet from Rosie O'Donnell calling for Comey to be fired

Donald Trump — the president of the United States — on Tuesday dug up an old tweet from actor Rosie O'Donnell calling former FBI Director James Comey's firing, then shared it with the caption "We finally agree on something Rosie."

Trump's tweet came two days after Comey's firing, and almost five months after O'Donnell sent her tweet. O'Donnell's tweet also was a reply to two other people — neither of whom was Trump.

An hour after the president's tweet, O'Donnell responded, tweeting that "u don't even realize the kind of trouble u r in" and "u r a sadistic man."

O'Donnell later told BuzzFeed News in a Twitter direct message that she believed the president's tweet is "a clear indication of his seriously declining mental health." The actor, apparently by coincidence, said she was on a boat off the coast of Trump's private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, when the president sent his tweet.

@realDonaldTrump - u don't even realize the kind of trouble u r in - comeys people believe in him - for real - they… https://t.co/pejf79o2Rg

It was not immediately clear if Trump scrolled through O'Donnell's timeline looking for her original tweet, if he had it bookmarked, or if he located it via some other means.

However, just minutes before the president's tweet, O'Donnell's tweet was shared on pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald.

The Rosie O'Donnell tweet was posted on the Trump subreddit about 20 minutes before the president tweeted it

Trump and O'Donnell famously have a long-running feud. In 2006, O'Donnell called Trump a "snake-oil salesman," which prompted the future president to call the actor "a real loser."

Trump repeated the line other times over the years, and O'Donnell has called him "an ass."

—Jim Dalrymple II

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeats that Trump decided to fire Comey himself

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday defended the shifting narrative about how President Trump came to fire FBI Director James Comey, telling reporters they were "getting lost in the process."

"It's very simple," she said. "The president decided to fire director Comey. Nobody else gets to make that decision."

But the story of how he reached and made the decision has been changing since Comey was suddenly terminated on Tuesday.

Press secretary Sean Spicer initially said in a statement that Trump "acted based on the clear recommendation" of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

And on Wednesday, when a reporter asked if it is the White House's assertion that Rosenstein decided on his own to review Comey's performance, Huckabee Sanders responded "absolutely."

But on Thursday, Huckabee Sanders repeated what Trump said during an interview with NBC News: that Comey's firing was going to happen with or without the recommendations of the attorney general and his deputy.

The written recommendations, she added, only "further solidified" the decision.

The Washington Post reported that Rosenstein threatened to quit after the White House portrayed him as a driving force behind Comey's termination. However, Huckabee Sanders said there was never an intent to pin the decision on Rosenstein.

"I think his decision was very clear," she said. "The president makes the decision. The bucks stops with him."

She went on to downplay acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe's comments to senators during a public hearing that Comey had "broad support within the FBI," saying she had personally talked to "a large number" of FBI employees who are happy with the president's decision.

—Mary Ann Georgantopoulos

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Conservative Rep. Justin Amash signs onto bill for independent Russia investigation

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Rep. Justin Amash, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, has joined legislation calling for a nonpartisan, independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, a source familiar with the legislation told BuzzFeed News.

Amash is the second House Republican to sign on to the bill and made the decision in the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey's firing this week. Amash tweeted after Comey was fired Tuesday night that he was reviewing legislation for an independent investigation, calling the second paragraph in President Donald Trump's dismissal letter to Comey — in which he thanked the FBI director for informing him three times that he was not under investigation — was "bizarre."

The legislation Amash has signed on to was introduced by Democratic Reps. Eric Swalwell and Elijah Cummings in December. It was reintroduced in the House and introduced in the Senate at the start of the new Congress in January. But it has stalled without significant Republican support.

The only House Republican to sign on to the legislation before Amash was North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones.

Read more here.

—Lissandra Villa

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Acting FBI director says White House will not get updates on Russia investigation

Eric Thayer / Reuters

In the first public appearance by a senior FBI official since President Donald Trump's shocking dismissal of James Comey, Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe vowed to not provide the White House with updates on its investigation into any connection between Russia and the Trump campaign.

McCabe told the Senate Intelligence committee Thursday he would "absolutely" commit to informing them of any political interference into its investigation.

McCabe took the former director's place at the hearing and assured senators that Comey's firing would not negatively affect the Russia investigation.

"The work of the men and women of the FBI continues, despite any changes in circumstance, any decisions," McCabe said. "There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date."

And in response to reports this week that Comey had requested additional resources for the Russia investigation before his firing, McCabe said he believed the FBI had the resources it needs to finish the probe.

Read more here.

—Emma Loop and Lissandra Villa

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President Trump calls Comey "showboat" and "grandstander" in interview with NBC News

President Donald Trump told NBC News that former-FBI Director James Comey is a "showboat" and "grandstander" who left the agency in turmoil.

"The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that," Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt in an interview that is scheduled to air Thursday evening. "You take a look at the FBI a year ago. It was in virtual turmoil. Less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that."

Trump also said that Comey's firing was going to happen with or without the recommendations of the attorney general and his deputy.

"Oh, I was going to fire regardless of recommendation," he said, directly contradicting White House surrogates — including Vice President Mike Pence — who repeatedly said Trump based his decision on the memo from the deputy attorney general.

Trump also insisted that he was not under investigation, and that Comey had told him so on three separate occasions, including over dinner and two phone calls.

"In one case, I called him, in another case, he called me," Trump said.

"You asked him if you're investigation?" Holt asked.

"I said, 'If it's possible, will you let me know, am I under investigation?' He said, 'You are not under investigation,'" Trump replied.

— Talal Ansari

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Acting FBI director vows to inform the Senate Intelligence Committee if White House tries to meddle with Russia probe

C-Span

Appearing before senators on Thursday, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said the White House has not tried to impede the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the US election, but vowed to inform Congress if it did.

"Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people, and upholding the Constitution," McCabe said at a Senate Intelligence Committee.

Appearing just two days after his former boss, James Comey, was fired by President Trump, McCabe also contradicted the White House on several points, including claims that the "rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence" in the director.

"That is not accurate," McCabe said at the hearing. "I can tell you I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard."

Comey also "enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day," McCabe added.

He also pushed back on White House attempts to downplay the significance of the FBI investigation into Russian interference and possible ties to the Trump campaign, calling the probe "highly significant."

Critics say Comey was fired over the investigation, and some Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for an independent investigation.

McCabe also cast doubt on an assertion made by Trump in his letter firing Comey that the FBI director told three times that he was not under investigation. McCabe told senators that while he could not comment on any conversations that may have taken place between the two men, informing someone that they are or aren't investigation is not standard practice.

Trump has denied any ties to or coordination with Russia.

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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The White House is reportedly stunned that Russia released photos of Trump's meeting with Lavrov in the Oval Office

WH furious over Russian government photos of Trump meeting with Lavrov/Kislyak. "They tricked us," an official said of Russians "They lie."

The White House is reportedly stunned at the Russian government for publishing photos of the Oval Office meeting between President Trump, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

An unnamed official was said to have told CNN's Jim Acosta that Moscow "tricked" the Trump administration, after photos of the meeting were released through Russia's state-run TASS news agency.

They added that the White House did not anticipate the pictures would be made public. No US media were allowed in the meeting.

The official also reportedly hit back at critics of the presence of Ambassador Kislyak — who was a central figure in the controversy surrounding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Moscow — in the Oval Office, saying: "It is ridiculous to say that an ambassador can’t meet with the president."

— Francis Whittaker

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly threatened to resign over the White House's depiction of his role in Comey's firing

Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein threatened to quit after the White House portrayed him as a driving force behind President Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing an anonymous source close to the White House.

The Justice Department declined BuzzFeed News' requests for comment on the report.

According to the Post, the president had already decided to fire Comey when he summoned Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to a meeting at the White House Monday, where he then directed them to put the administration's reasons for firing Comey into writing.

They did, and the next day Trump fired Comey, citing the recommendations of the attorney general and his deputy as the reason for his decision.

On Wednesday, the administration amended its stated rationale for firing Comey, stating in an official White House timeline that the president had lost confidence in the FBI director over the last several months, and that after watching Comey's testimony before Congress last week, "was strongly inclined to remove him."

Nevertheless, Rosenstein, who has spent his career with the Justice Department, has emerged as an unlikely — and perhaps reluctant — key player in the drama surrounding Comey's firing.

In an open letter to Rosenstein Thursday, the New York Times editorial board called him "deeply implicated" in Comey's firing, and implored him to appoint a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"It's rare that any single person has to bear as much responsibility for safeguarding American democracy as you find yourself carrying now," the Times wrote, adding "the power to launch a truly credible investigation has fallen to you, and you alone."

—Grace Wyler and Michelle Broder Van Dyke

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Trump trolls Democrats with extended mashup of their past criticism of Comey

The Democrats should be ashamed. This is a disgrace! #DrainTheSwamp

After starting the day with a wild Twitter rant defending his decision to fire James Comey, President Donald Trump attempted to go back on offense Wednesday night with a video calling out Democrats who had previously called for the FBI director's ousting.

The roughly two-minute video starts by mashing up clips of high-profile Democrats — Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, and Nancy Pelosi, among others — questioning Comey's credibility and, in some cases, calling for him to resign.

But it really gets going around the 1:55 mark, when a cartoonish nightly news score kicks in over a scroll of disparaging quotes about Comey.

It's the latest iteration of the argument the White House has been making since Tuesday's surprising news, and one that Trump's critics have dismissed as "surreal." While Democrats were outraged by the way Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails — and many blamed him for her loss to Trump — he was also the guy investigating Trump's ties to Russia. They may not have liked Comey, but they're certainly not happy he's gone.

—Grace Wyler

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Comey sends farewell letter to FBI: "It is done, and I will be fine"

CNN / Via cnn.com

In a farewell letter to the FBI, James Comey assured employees that "I will be fine," and urged them to continue protecting the American people and the Constitution.

The letter, obtained by CNN, was a short goodbye from the former director, who had still seven years left in his tenure when he was suddenly fired by President Donald Trump Tuesday.

"I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all," Comey wrote. "I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won't either. It is done, and I will be fine."

Alluding to "times of turbulence" in the country, Comey also emphasized the need for the FBI to be a point of stability for American citizens.

"I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence," he wrote. "It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing the right thing."

—Salvador Hernandez

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A leading House Republican wants the Justice Department to investigate Comey's firing

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wants the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate President Donald Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Chaffetz asked Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to expand the scope of his probe into the FBI's actions leading up to the 2016 election to include the department's decision to fire Comey.

"You stated previously that your work includes an examination of whether Comey's public communications and notifications to Congress about the Clinton investigation comported with Justice Department and FBI policies and procedures," Chaffetz wrote. "You separately stated 'if circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review. The recommendation to remove Comey indeed warrants such consideration."

—Brianna Sacks

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The White House is trying to clarify its timeline running up to Comey's firing

Susan Walsh / AP

The White House on Wednesday tried to clear up the timeline of events that led to President Trump's sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey.

During a press briefing, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had been considering firing Comey since the presidential election, despite past White House statements that Trump was confident in the FBI director's work.

Hours later, the White House released a timeline for the decision, which stated Trump had lost confidence in Comey "over the last several months."

The White House also cited Comey's testimony to Congress in which he misstated the number of emails a top Hillary Clinton aide had forwarded to a home computer, leading the president to be "strongly inclined to remove him."

Questions surrounding the timing of Comey's firing were fueled Wednesday after reports that he had recently requested more resources for the FBI's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

According to the White House, this is the timeline of Comey's termination:

  • The president, over the last several months, lost confidence in Comey.

  • After watching Comey's testimony last Wednesday, the president was strongly inclined to remove him.

  • On Monday, the president met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, where they discussed reasons to fire the FBI director.

  • On Tuesday, May 9, Rosenstein sent a three-page memo recommending to the attorney general that Comey be removed from his position.

—Salvador Hernandez

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Major police union backs Trump firing Comey

Kena Betancur / AFP / Getty Images

An influential law enforcement union has come out in support of President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

"We continue to support the President and the Attorney General and do not second guess their judgement in this matter," International Union of Police Associations executive Vice President Dennis Slocumb in an email to BuzzFeed News.

The union, which represents 38,000 law enforcement officers and personnel, broke from other major public employee unions in its support of the controversial firing.

Read more here. —Cora Lewis

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An independent investigation into Russia remains unlikely

Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump's sudden dismissal of FBI director James Comey in the midst of the bureau's investigation into his campaign's ties to Russia has renewed calls for an independent investigation.

But one Republican with the power to stop that idea in its tracks — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — has made clear he won't let that happen.

Hours after Comey's firing, McConnell said in his opening remarking on the Senate floor that he was going to continue to rely on the Senate Intelligence Committee to continue its investigation rather than look into starting an independent one.

An independent commission, similar to the one created to investigate 9/11, would need Congress to approve funding for the investigation and to determine the details — including who would sit on the commission, the scope of the investigation, and a deadline to release its findings. Republicans have argued that such bodies can cost millions and take years to produce a report.

Read more. —Tarini Parti

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More Republicans support independent investigation into Russia

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

While the Republican response to Comey's abrupt termination has been mixed, about a dozen GOP officials say they are "troubled" by the circumstances and timing.

Several GOP members of Congress have also said they would consider independent investigations into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

On Wednesday, Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen said the circumstances surrounding Comey's firing during the ongoing Russia investigation warranted an independent investigation. Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi of Ohio said in a statement that he would support a special prosecutor.

Rep. Justin Amash, a House Republican, said on Twitter Tuesday night that he is reviewing legislation that would establish an independent commission in Congress to look into Russian influence in the election.

Republican Sen. John McCain has focused on establishing a select committee — which would be run within Congress — and has also said he could support an outside investigation, along the lines of what several Democratic leaders have proposed.

Read more here. —Brianna Sacks

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First photos of Comey after he was fired

Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP

James Comey has been photographed for the first time since he was fired by President Trump.

The former FBI director was snapped by an Associated Press photographer outside his home in McLean, Virginia, on Wednesday.

Comey had been in Los Angeles preparing to give a speech when he was suddenly fired on Tuesday afternoon.

—David Mack

Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP
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Trump tweets Democrats are "phony hypocrites!"

Dems have been complaining for months & months about Dir. Comey. Now that he has been fired they PRETEND to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites!

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White House: Trump wanted to fire Comey for months

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Despite previously saying for months that President Trump had full confidence in FBI Director James Comey, the White House on Wednesday suddenly changed tune and said the president had been considering firing him for months.

Briefing reporters the day after Trump fired the FBI chief, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president "had lost confidence in Comey from the day he was elected."

Press secretary Sean Spicer said as recently as last week that Trump had confidence in Comey.

"I think it's been an erosion of confidence," Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday. "I think Director Comey has shown over the last several months and frankly the last year a lot of missteps and mistakes."

She suggested Democrats should be celebrating Comey's ouster.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Trump had been "considering letting Comey go since the d… https://t.co/ofbWiov5jp

Asked to explain Trump's praise of Comey during the election for reopening the email investigation into Hillary Clinton, Huckabee Sanders distinguished between Trump as a candidate and as president.

"He was a candidate for president, not the president. Those are two very different things," she said. "Once you take over leading the Department of Justice, that's very different from being a candidate in a campaign."

The White House spokeswoman also denied comments by Sen. Dianne Feinstein that Trump had told her he had asked the Department of Justice to find a reason to fire Comey. She said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein came to Trump on his own volition on Monday to recommend Comey's dismissal.

Huckabee Sanders, who told Fox News last night it was time to "move on" from the Russia investigation, said Wednesday the White House "encouraged [investigators] to complete this investigation so we can put it behind us."

—David Mack

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Comey invited to testify before the Senate in closed-door briefing

Eric Thayer / Getty Images

The Senate Intelligence Committee has invited Comey to speak before the panel on Tuesday in a closed, members-only briefing, meaning it will not be televised, an aide to the committee told BuzzFeed News.

The invitation comes as members of Congress, particularly Democrats, have asked for more information on his firing, both from Comey and the Department of Justice.

Comey had been scheduled to brief the committee this Thursday on "worldwide threats" before he was abruptly fired.

—Sarah Mimms

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Protesters gather outside White House to demand an independent Russia investigation

Midday- hundreds gather outside @WhiteHouse to protest #ComeyFiring and #resist Trump madness

Crowds rallied at the White House on Wednesday to protest the firing of FBI Director James Comey and call for an independent probe into possible ties between President Trump campaign and Russia.

People also held signs demanding that Trump continue being investigated. Some were heard chanting Sally Yates’ name (“Yates”).

—Tanya Chen

Growing anti-Trump protest in front of WH. #ComeyFiring @AJStream

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Russia foreign minister refuses to answer questions on Comey firing

Alexander Shcherbak / Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday dismissed a question from a reporter on whether he was happy with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing an investigation into Moscow's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

"I thought we were all adults here," Lavrov responded at the press conference in Washington, DC. "I never thought I'd have to answer questions like this here, especially in the United States of America with your deeply developed democratic system."

Lavrov, who is making his first visit to US capital since 2013, deferred to President Trump's previous statements on Russia's involvement in the election.

"President Trump has publicly said on multiple occasions about what he thinks regarding claims that we're meddling with your internal politics," Lavrov said. "His public statements are enough for me. There's no need here to somehow secretly, whispering in the ear, talk about this.

"We know the position of President Trump and we know the position of those who want to prove the opposite. The problem is that there isn't a single bit of proof provided to anyone," he said.

Lavrov's press conference came after he and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak met with Trump in the Oval Office.

During the media briefing, Lavrov also berated the reporter for not seeking the facts on the Russian meddling story. "If you're informing a national and international audience, ask where these facts are. You're a journalist," he said.

Responding to the reporter's second question, which asked whether Lavrov was happy with Comey's firing, Lavrov wondered what he has to do with it.

"This is not a question for me," he said. "I can give you lots of examples when someone in the Russian Federation, France, or Britain hires or fires someone else. It's your internal business."

When asked about the Russian interference again by a different reporter, Lavrov again leaned on Trump's public statements. "Put one fact on the table," he said. "Guys, this isn't serious."

—Jane Lytvynenko

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Putin — decked out in hockey gear — reacted to Comey's firing saying, "This has nothing to do with us"

The Russian president commented on Trump's abrupt firing of the FBI director right before he skated off to score some goals at the Night Hockey League match in Sochi on Wednesday.

Watch the CBS News clip here.

—Tasneem Nashrulla

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Reports: James Comey asked for more money for the FBI's Russia probe before he was fired

The Washington Post / Getty Images

Days before his sudden firing as head of the FBI, James Comey asked the Justice Department for additional funding and personnel for the bureau's probe into Russian interference in the election and Moscow's alleged ties to the Trump campaign, according to reports.

According to the New York Times, which first reported the news, the request was made to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who then wrote a letter to President Trump recommending Comey be fired. The stated reason was for Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

The Wall Street Journal later also reported the news.

A Justice Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the reports were not true.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, Rosenstein became the most senior official overseeing the probe.

Democrats have accused the White House of attempting to orchestrate a cover-up, but the Trump administration said Comey was fired because he lost the public's confidence over his handling of the Clinton email investigation last year.

—David Mack

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Trump meets with Russian diplomats at the White House and says he fired Comey for not doing "a good job"

Alexander Shcherbak / Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

The morning after he fired the man overseeing the FBI's investigation into his campaign's alleged ties to Russia, President Donald Trump met Wednesday in the Oval Office with two top Russian diplomats.

Trump received Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak as part of a prearranged meeting.

US media were not permitted in the room for the meeting, but Russian photographers were — and quickly published pictures of the three men. Images of the meeting were also shared on Twitter by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

American media were briefly allowed to photograph a subsequent meeting between the president and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, where Trump told reporters he fired Comey because he "wasn't doing a good job."

Here's video of President Trump, sitting in the Oval Office with Henry Kissinger, saying he fired Comey because he… https://t.co/55vCv8pBK0

—David Mack

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Russia's foreign minister tours Washington in the most awkwardly timed visit ever

Yuri Gripas / Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is famous for injecting a touch of humor into high-profile diplomatic summits or press conferences — and Wednesday was no different as he walked in front of cameras ahead of his meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the State Department.

Reporters shouted questions about the long shadow cast over the talks by the stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday night. But as Tillerson hastily retreated from the spotlight, Lavrov turned to the press and played dumb.

"Was he fired?" Lavrov asked jokingly. "You're kidding. You're kidding."

Here’s video of Lavrov-Tillerson—> Q: “Does Comey cast a shadow over your talks?” Lavrov: “Was he fired? You are… https://t.co/nCTEny8DbT

Despite Lavrov's best efforts, no comedic intervention could lighten the mood surrounding one of the most awkwardly timed Russian diplomatic trips to Washington in recent memory.

Read more here. —John Hudson

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Trump goes on a wild Twitter rant the morning after he fired the FBI director

Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump went on a wild Twitter rant the morning after he fired FBI director James Comey, yelling at the morning cable news coverage.

Early in his Wednesday morning rant Trump said that Washington will thank him once things calm down.

Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!

The president began sounding off on Twitter by vowing to replace Comey with "someone who will do a far better job" and who will bring "back the spirit and prestige of the FBI."

He also called out the Democrats for crying foul, claiming that they had "said some of the worst things about James Comey."

Read more of Wednesday morning's developments here. —Jessica Simeone


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