Comey Agrees to Testify in Open Hearing Before Senate Intel Committee

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Ousted FBI Director James Comey will testify in a public hearing before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee after Memorial Day, the panel announced Friday.

Comey's handling of the investigation, including his several conversations with Trump since his election, has taken on added importance since his dismissal and subsequent reports that the president had asked Comey to shut down part of the inquiry, and then later called him a "nut job" in meetings with Russian officials. On Thursday, the Justice Department said a special counsel had been appointed to look into allegations of Russian interference in last year's election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign. Richard Burr and Virginia Sen.

The announcement that Comey would testify followed closely the disclosure by the Justice Department that Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had talked with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about replacing Comey last winter, before either man had been confirmed for his position in the Trump administration.

US law enforcement uses the term "a person of interest" to mean someone who is part of a criminal investigation but not arrested or formally accused of a crime.

The Washington Post, citing sources familiar with the matter, did not identify the senior Trump adviser except to say that the person of interest was close to Trump, a Republican who entered the White House four months ago. "I hope that former Director Comey's testimony will help answer some of the questions that have arisen since Director Comey was so suddenly dismissed by the President", Warner said.

The Times reported Trump noted the Russia investigation as he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak of his decision to fire Comey.

The Senate Judiciary's chairman and ranking member announced Friday evening that he'd turned down their invitation, expressing frustration over the decision.

The Times said the document was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are also probing possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. "That's taken off", he said. But GOP lawmakers have grown increasingly anxious since Trump fired Comey, who had been leading the bureau's probe - and after Comey associates said he had notes from a meeting in which Trump asked him to shut down the investigation into the Russian Federation ties of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favorable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well.

The Times report added to the impression given by Trump himself in a television interview last week in which he said the Russian Federation issue was a factor in firing Comey.

While the White House initially pointed to a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, outlining Comey's mismanagement of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server, as the impetus for his termination, Trump later admitted that the Russian Federation investigation, which the president has called a "hoax", played a role.

The President and his team have vigorously denied numerous mounting news reports and questioned others, while many Republicans have publicly taken a wait-and-see approach on whether they prove true. Comey's testimony could publicly corroborate that testimony, and badly damage Trump's presidency.

A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not discuss information provided in classified briefings and said the House Oversight committee had already asked for documents related to Comey's firing.

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