Former FBI director Comey to testify publicly

Then-FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington DC

Then-FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington DC

In their announcement Friday, Burr and Warner announced that Comey would testify in open session, and that they would schedule that session after the Memorial Day break.

Warner said Comey's testimony would help "answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President". "Moreover, the American people deserve to hear it".

This comes on the heels of Comey's recent unexpected dismissal as Federal Bureau of Investigation director by President Trump, which raised a lot of eyebrows in the government and the media, and the ethics of Trump's decision has been widely questioned by the public.

Comey has been at the heart of the scandals enveloping the White House after Trump fired him last week while he was leading the FBI's investigation into Russia's election-year meddling and contact with the Trump campaign.

The White House has been thrown into turmoil by a string of allegations against Mr Trump this week, including that he may have obstructed justice by asking Mr Comey to drop an investigation into one of his top advisers.

Earlier on Friday, the New York Times reported that Trump told Russian officials the day after he fired Comey that the former FBI director was a "nut job" and he had let him go to take off the "great pressure" around the mounting investigation.

Emphasizing that he wants to clear the air, Trump stated, "I want to get to the bottom if Russian Federation or anybody is trying to tamper or play with our election".

"As the President has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in response to the Post story that a White House official is now ensnared in the probe.

"We're extremely disappointed in James Comey's decision not to testify voluntarily before the Judiciary Committee", said Chairman Chuck Grassley and the panel's top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, urging Comey to reconsider.

The initial reports were that Trump's decision came as a result of a recommendation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and that it was because of Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's scandal regarding the homebrew email server that she used while she was secretary of state under Barack Obama.

"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation", he said.

The newspaper said that a USA official read the document to Times staff members. Other news reports also said that, during that same meeting, Trump discussed classified counter-terrorism information with the Russians. "That's taken off." The president also reportedly said: "I'm not under investigation". "If there was any question as to why Comey was really fired, @realDonaldTrump just answered it".

Democrats said the new stories underscore their belief that Trump fired Comey in order to shut down the Russian Federation probe.

White House response to Comey's agreement to testify wasn't immediately available.

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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