Trump: Firing ‘nut job’ FBI chief ‘eased pressure’ — Comey to testify in public during the US inquiry into Russian interference — Assange: “the proper war is just commencing”
US President Donald Trump told Russian officials that firing FBI director James Comey eased “great pressure” on him, US media report.
The New York Times, citing a document summarising last week’s meeting, says he called Mr Comey a “real nut job”.
Mr Comey had been running an inquiry into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign.
The ex-FBI chief has agreed to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the investigation.
The latest report was published just as Mr Trump took off on a flight to the Middle East for the first leg of his first foreign tour as president.“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the report.
“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
The former FBI director James Comey is to testify in public during the US inquiry into Russian interference, it has been announced, as a series of damaging revelations pile further pressure on the embattled president Donald Trump.
Confirming Comey’s appearance, the committee chairman, Senator Richard Burr, said: “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 US elections and I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media.”
Senator Mark Warner, the vice-chairman, said he hoped the testimony “will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the president”.
“He deserves an opportunity to tell his story,” Warner said in the joint statement. “Moreover, the American people deserve an opportunity to hear it.”
However, Comey declined an invitation from the Senate judiciary committee, which asked him to testify voluntarily about the circumstances of his firing and his interactions with officials from the Trump and Obama administrations relating to the Russia and Hillary Clinton investigations.
Julian Assange has declared that “the proper war is just commencing” after Swedish prosecutors unexpectedly dropped their investigation into an allegation of rape against him, ending a torturous seven-year extradition battle that nevertheless leaves significant question marks over his future.
The 45-year-old WikiLeaks founder appeared on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he had sought asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, and said Friday’s decision was “an important victory”.
After raising a clenched fist in salute, however, he vowed that “threats” made by US officials that he could be arrested on espionage charges “will not be tolerated” and said his organisation was escalating its leaks of documents about the CIA.
Assange still faces arrest over breaching his bail conditions if he leaves the embassy, the Metropolitan police confirmed, and he fears the US will seek his extradition over WikiLeaks’ publishing activities.
INTEL TODAY DIARY — May 21 2017