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President Donald Trump did not just leak intelligence secret about Islamic State to the Russians, he also discussed with glee the firing of James Comey, the former FBI chief.
A new report by New York Times said Trump told Russian officials his firing of FBI Director James Comey relieved “great pressure” on him, calling the former FBI chief a “nut job.”
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said, according to a report based on a summary of the meeting obtained by the Times.
Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Trump in the White House on May 10, when the alleged conversation occurred.
The meeting took place one day after Trump’s surprise firing of Comey, which prompted bipartisan outcry and ultimately led to the Justice Department appointing a special counsel to look into allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not dispute the Times’ characterisation, telling the newspaper Comey was causing problems in U.S.-Russia relations.
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Spicer said.
“The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
The report is the latest in a steady stream of bad headlines for the White House related to the fallout of Comey’s firing.
The White House initially said Comey was only fired after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made a recommendation.
But Trump himself told NBC News last week that he would have fired Comey regardless of the recommendations, saying he did it because “this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
Days later, the Times reported that Trump had asked Comey in February to end his investigation into disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and that the Trump transition team knew that Flynn was under investigation by the Justice Department when it chose to name him to that post.
Moments after the Times’s report, the Washington Post reported that a current senior White House aide is considered a person of interest by the Justice Department in its investigation.
Rosenstein appointed former FBI chief Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian election interference and links between Trump’s team and the Kremlin.
In addition, the FBI and the Senate and House Intelligence committees are also conducting Russia probes.