US President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats firing "nut job" Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey relieved "great pressure", reports The New York Times.
"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia", Mr. Spicer said. "That's taken off", he said.
The New York Times, citing a document summarising last week's meeting, says he called Mr Comey a "real nut job".
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer did not deny Times's account of the meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, though he held firm to the line that Comey had "created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russian Federation".
The White House document read to the Times was based on notes taken within the Oval Office during the meeting, and was circulated as an official account of it. But the takeaway, as it has been for some time, is that the president's primary consideration in firing the FBI director was the FBI's Russian Federation investigation.
Democrats have argued that Mr Trump's firing of Mr Comey during his Russian Federation investigation could amount to obstruction of justice. Originally, the White House's position was that Comey was sacked on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who cited the FBI director's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the campaign. Mueller will have sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes he uncovers.More news: Melania Trump hails 'empowerment of women' at Saudi company visit
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Late Friday, the Senate intelligence committee announced that Comey had agreed to testify at an open hearing at an undetermined date after Memorial Day. He did not provide examples or evidence of any alleged "illegal acts". However, the newly appointed special counsel reports to the deputy attorney general.
With Sessions on the sidelines, lawmakers new Rosenstein would have the authority to oversee the FBI's Russian Federation investigation or outsource it to a special counsel. Vice President Pence even said repeatedly that Russian Federation was "not what this is about".
While we've known for some time that the FBI's investigation into Russiagate has been ongoing since last July, all of the specific subjects of that investigation have yet to be confirmed. "I look forward to this matter concluding quickly". In his briefings with lawmakers, Rosenstein said that he knew Trump was going to fire Comey prior to writing the memo in question, according to McClatchy.
'I can not defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the almost universal judgment that he was mistaken, ' Rosenstein wrote - in a letter the White House released immediately after Trump fired Comey.
The move was dubbed "Nixonian" and has led to the appointment of a special counsel with sweeping powers to investigate the Trump campaign's links to Russian Federation. During a commencement address Wednesday at the Coast Guard Academy, he complained bitterly about criticism he's faced.
"Notwithstanding my personal affection for Director Comey, I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader", Rosenstein said in the remarks. Trump also at several points tried to shoot down allegations his campaign aides were in cahoots with Russian officials involved in any election shenanigans.