Saturday May 20, 2017
Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump last week amid an agency probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US election, has agreed to testify before the US Senate Intelligence Committee at a public hearing, the committee said in a statement on Friday.
The hearing will be scheduled after the May 29 Memorial Day holiday, the statement said.
On Friday, reports citing current and former US officials familiar with the exchanges disclosed that Flynn and other advisers to Trump’s campaign 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 2016 presidential race.
The previously-undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the US presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak – Russia's ambassador to the United States – and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.
In addition, an explosive development Wednesday alleged Trump had asked then-FBI Director Comey to end the agency's investigation into ties between former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia, according to a source who saw a memo written by Comey.
This followed a week of tumult at the White House after Trump fired Comey and then discussed sensitive national security information about Daesh with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The 'Comey memo', first reported by the New York Times, caused alarm on Capitol Hill and raised questions about whether the President tried to interfere with a federal investigation.
The White House quickly denied the report, saying in a statement it was "not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey".
Comey, who had been leading his agency's investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential campaign and possible collusion with Trump's campaign, was fired by Trump on May 10 in an abrupt move that sent shock waves throughout the world.
Trump said this was a consequence of Comey's handling of an election-year email scandal last year involving the then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Democrats immediately accused Trump of acting out of political motives.
The former FBI director had been embroiled in a controversy surrounding his handling of a probe of Clinton's use of a private email server while she was US secretary of state. As recently as Tuesday, the FBI clarified remarks that Comey made on the matter last week.
Subsequently, Trump in a letter to Comey released by the White House said, "It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission."