James Comey asked to testify before House investigative committee

Former FBI director James Comey has been invited to testify before the congressional committee on oversight and government reform next week. 

The committee — the primary investigative body within the House of Representatives — has set a hearing for May 24 to investigate whether U.S. President Donald Trump interfered in an FBI probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 

Committee chair Jason Chaffetz said Wednesday that Comey has been asked to testify at the hearing. 

The move comes a day after it was disclosed that Comey had written a memo detailing how Trump had asked him to shut down the investigation into Flynn. The FBI has been looking into Flynn for months as part of a counterintelligence investigation.

Chaffetz has demanded that the FBI turn over Comey’s memos. He said he wants to determine whether the president attempted to influence or impede the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.

Abrupt firing

Trump has been under scrutiny from Democrats and political pundits since he abruptly fired Comey last week. At the time, the U.S. president said the dismissal was connected to Comey’s very public handling into the Hillary Clinton email probe.

The White House, meanwhile, has provided differing accounts of the firing. And lawmakers have alleged that the sudden ouster was actually an attempt to stifle the bureau’s investigation into Trump associates’ ties to Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The White House said President Donald Trump will be interviewing four potential candidates to replace Comey, including former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump will be meeting later Wednesday with Lieberman, former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, FBI acting director Andrew McCabe and Richard McFeely, a former top FBI official.

‘You cannot let them get you down’

The president has suggested he hopes to name Comey’s successor before he departs Friday for his first overseas trip as president.

Trump Coast Guard

President Donald Trump attends the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., where he struck a defiant tone. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Trump did not speak about Comey at a U.S. Coast Guard Academy commencement in Connecticut on Wednesday, but he struck a defiant tone, telling graduates that no other politician has been treated more unfairly by the media. But, he said, “You cannot let them get you down.”

Russia offers records of White House meeting

In another twist to the furor surrounding Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier Wednesday offered to turn over to Congress records of Trump’s discussions with Russian diplomats in which Trump is reported to have disclosed classified information. 

(FILE) USA TRUMP LAVROV SECRETS

In a photo made available by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Trump speaks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, on May 10, the day after James Comey was fired. (EPA)

Putin told a news conference that he would be willing to turn over notes of Trump’s meeting with the Russian diplomats if the White House agreed. He dismissed outrage over Trump’s disclosures as U.S. politicians whipping up “anti-Russian sentiment.” Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, in the Oval Office on May 10, a day after the president fired Comey.

Asked what he thinks of Trump’s presidency, Putin said it’s up to the American people to judge, but his performance can be rated “only when he’s allowed to work at full capacity,” implying that someone is hampering Trump’s efforts.

Democrats seek independent commission

Meanwhile, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is urging Democrats to sign a discharge petition to establish an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election and whether associates of the president co-operated with that effort.

Pelosi said the American people “deserve answers and to get to the bottom of the Trump-Russia connection and possible collusion to influence the election.”

A total of 110 lawmakers, including one Republican, had signed the petition as of Wednesday afternoon. At least 216 signatures are needed to bring the measure to the House floor.

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