US lawmakers to press intel chiefs on Russia ahead of Comey hearing


President Donald Trump's national security team will appear before a Senate panel Wednesday to discuss gathering intelligence on foreign agents and will likely be asked about Russia's election meddling and whether the president has tried to influence ongoing investigations.

With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee today and Comey himself to do so tomorrow, the survey finds the public taking a particularly dim view of Trump in the controversy.

The Washington Post reported on May 22 that Trump had asked the officials to help push back against the FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Moscow, citing current and former officials.

McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, can attend the intelligence committee hearing on Thursday and ask questions as he is an "ex officio" of the committee, CNN said. While not part of the Russian Federation investigation, the hearing will provide an opportunity for lawmakers to ask Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about a memo he wrote that the White House initially cited as justification for Comey's dismissal.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president would have a "very, very busy day" on Thursday.

Comey was given the go-ahead to deliver potentially explosive testimony after the White House announced it would not use its executive privilege to block his appearance, less than a month after he was controversially sacked by the president.

Comey may also detail other conversations with Trump.

While the White House said Mr Comey's handling of the inquiry into defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's emails was the reason for his dismissal, Mr Trump has subsequently said Mr Comey "wasn't doing a good job" and was "a showboat".

It comes a day ahead of the hotly anticipated testimony from Comey, who has not spoken publicly since he was abruptly dismissed by President Donald Trump on May 9.

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On Tuesday, the White House declined to say whether Trump still had confidence in his attorney general. "They should be investigating Hillary Clinton's connections to Russian Federation - not Trump's".

Comey may also be asked questions relating to meetings with the president, whether or not any evidence surfaced during the campaign investigation, and also to comment on any specific directives Trump gave Comey during his time at the FBI.

Almost half of Republicans don't trust President Trump's word on the Russian influence in the election, according to a new poll from ABC News/Washington Post published Wednesday. In one memo, Comey described a dinner with Trump at the White House a week after the inauguration in January.

The federal Russian Federation investigation is now in the hands of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, whose office has coordinated with Comey's about his upcoming testimony.

Trump himself invoked Nixonian symbolism last month, when he warned via Twitter that Comey "better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversations".

Days after Comey's firing, the Justice Department appointed a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to oversee the federal investigation. "I have to hire a great workforce to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview", he said. But it is not clear what, if anything, Comey told the president about whether he was being investigated.

"I hope people don't over interpret my answers, but I just don't want to start talking about anything - what we're looking at and how", Comey says.

There will be much in former FBI Director James Comey's upcoming congressional testimony that will make the White House uncomfortable, but he will stop short of saying the president interfered with the agency's probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a source familiar with Comey's thinking told ABC News.

Fired FBI director James Comey told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he did not want to be left alone with the president, United States media report.