Acting FBI director undercuts White House on Comey firing


President Donald Trump says that former FBI Director James Comey told him three times that the president was not personally under investigation in a probe to determine whether any campaign associates colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And I said I'll consider and we'll see what happens.

Capping a week in which Trump faced a slew of criticism for firing the man investigating his campaign's possible ties to Russia, Trump told James Comey there could be retribution if he tells the press about their private conversations.

He also said that he had heard he was not under investigation during a committee hearing.

Comey is "not anxious about any tapes" of conversations between him and Trump, a source familiar with the matter told CNN on Friday, adding that "if there is a tape, there's nothing he is anxious about" that could be on it.

Critics have assailed Trump for firing the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief at a time when the agency is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump presidential campaign. Trump said there was no "collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians", and that "the Russians did not affect the vote".

In one of the more dramatic exchanges, he was asked whether the investigation was - as White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintained Wednesday - a small investigation in relation to the other work the FBI is conducting.

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The White House said Trump is weighing options for replacing Comey, a decision that could have broad implications for the future of the Russian Federation investigation.

"That's not to say there wasn't evidence, but not that met that threshold", Clapper said.

He added: "It would be in everyone's best interest to get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, this is going to continue to linger as a dark cloud, in my opinion, over this administration". Six presidents secretly recorded meetings and telephone conversations between 1940 and 1973, according to historian and CNN contributor Julian Zelizer.

On Friday, a person close to the former director recounted a Comey-Trump dinner in January at which Trump asked for a pledge of loyalty.

Trump and Comey's relationship was strained early on, in part because of the president's explosive and unsubstantiated claims that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. "Honest people don't have problems being taped", Dean tweeted.

The White House initially said Comey was sacked on the recommendation of the two top officials at the Justice Department.

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Trump, in an interview Thursday with NBC News, had this version: "I said, 'If it's possible, would you let me know, am I under investigation?' He said you are not under investigation".

Trump told NBC's Lester Holt: "And in fact when I chose to just do it, I said to myself, I said 'you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won'".

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Richard Durbin, slammed the President after Friday's tweet about Comey.

The White House initially cited a Justice Department memo criticizing Comey's handling of last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails as the impetus.

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

"Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"

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McCabe's willingness to cut against White House talking points may reflect an understanding that he may not serve for long as acting director.