US President Donald Trump told visiting Russian diplomats that firing "nut job" Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey had relieved "great pressure", say US reports.
Trump's meeting with ambassador Sergey Lavrov came just one day after he had fired Comey. "That's taken off", the president reportedly said.
People familiar with the matter tell the Post that it's a senior adviser who is close to the President, though they declined to identify who it is. The report did not name the adviser.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account. That's because Comey, as FBI director, was leading the Russia investigation and had recently announced the probe was targeting alleged Russian ties to Trump's campaign.
The White House has not disputed the language used.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign or administration and Russia's government.
Per McClatchy, the cover up is the third "branch" of an investigation that began as a look into Russian interference, and then began to examine whether the Trump team colluded with the Russians.
Trump reportedly added that he wasn't under investigation, which is potentially untrue, since the president may not know the extent or specifics of the probe.
"It is a candid internal memorandum about the FBI director's public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation", he said.
And there's more trouble for the White House on the horizon.
The appointment of Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favourable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well.
"There was considerable frustration in the room", said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee. Trump also called Comey a "showboat" and a "grandstander".
In the briefing, Rosenstein stressed that his memo criticizing Comey was not meant to be a finding of official misconduct or a "statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination".
She said subjects of the investigation could later argue that its results cannot be trusted, but she believes the argument would not stand up in court. Rosenstein denounced that as "profoundly wrong and unfair". Earlier this week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel and lead the investigation into Russian meddling. A well-paid lawyer would argue that Trump was saying in the NBC interview that he was thinking about Russian Federation, but that it wasn't necessarily the reason he acted. However, at a combative news conference Thursday, he fell short in trying to resolve questions about investigations into his campaign and his first four months in office.
"I think a lot of them are ready to flip", one Democratic congressional staffer said of his Republican colleagues this week. Sessions has recused himself from the Trump-Russia probe, citing his close involvement in the Trump campaign past year.