Trump said firing Comey relieved 'great pressure'

The Times said the document was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office. It says one official had read quotations to the Times and another had confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

Friday's report quotes Trump calling ousted FBI Director James Comey "crazy" and "a real nut job". It says the president then told Russia's foreign minister and ambassador that he "faced great pressure because of Russian Federation".

Trump met with the Russians on May 10, the day after he fired Comey.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov denied Saturday that the topic of the dismissal of Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey was discussed during his meeting last week with President Trump in the Oval Office, according to the Russian news media.

President Donald Trump has been narrowing a short list and interviewing candidates to replace FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired on May 9.

Trump's meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak was controversial before news of talk about Comey ever came out.

Trump had said Thursday he was "very close" to naming a replacement and that former Connecticut Sen.

The president departed Friday afternoon on a four-country, nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe.

White House officials did not deny either story, but only stressed that Trump and his staff had no collusion with Russian Federation.

Trump added, "I'm not under investigation".

Rosenstein was returning to the Capitol on Friday for another closed-door session, this time with all members of the House.

Rosenstein underscored that the memo he wrote was "not a legal brief" and was "not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination.[and] not a survey of FBI morale or performance" but instead "a candid internal memorandum about the FBI Director's public statements concerning a high-profile criminal investigation".

In that memo - which the White House initially used as the justification for Comey's firing, before Trump later admitted he had made up his mind well before that - Rosenstein outlined reasons why Comey should be terminated, namely his handling of the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server nearly a year ago.

He says he asked career Justice Department lawyers to review the memo. And he said he knew Trump already meant to fire Comey before he wrote the memo.

"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.

In the aftermath of Comey's firing, Trump and his aides cited Rosenstein's memo as contributing to his decision, while Democrats have criticized the deputy attorney general for agreeing to write it.

Despite initially opposing appointment of an independent counsel, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the development "helps assure people and the Justice Department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along".

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