Trump denies ever urging Comey to back off Flynn investigation


"No. No. Next question", Trump interrupted tersely.

On Twitter, the president referred to the Russian Federation probe as a "witch hunt" and reiterated his stance during a joint press conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos later in the day.

Flynn's work on Turkey's behalf at the same time that he was Trump's principal foreign policy adviser was not publicly known until March, when he belatedly filed as a foreign agent with the Justice Department almost a month after he'd left the Trump administration.

"There's been no collusion between, certainly myself, and my campaign, but I can only speak for myself, and the Russians", Trump said Thursday at a news conference with the president of Colombia.

The president himself later said he had long disliked Comey and made up his mind to fire him before Rosenstein presented him with his memo, and on Thursday Rosenstein also told the full Senate that he knew Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo.

But Trump, speaking in the East Room of the White House during a joint press conference alongside the visiting Colombian president, said while he respected the move by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel in the Russian Federation probe, "the entire thing has been a witch hunt".

Lavrov said Trump simply talked about how terrorists "are capable of stuffing laptops, all kinds of electronic devices, with untraceable explosive materials".

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Democrats had slammed Comey's "poor" handling of the Clinton email investigation as recently as this month, but then later decried his firing as an attempt to stymie the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the elections and any collusion with Trump's campaign.

He also denied he urged Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, telling reporters, "No, no".

"Everybody, even my enemies, have said there is no collusion", he said.

The New York Times said in a Thursday report that the new Trump administration named Flynn as national security adviser even though Flynn told the president-elect's transition team weeks before the January 20 inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working during the presidential campaign as a paid lobbyist for Turkish interests in the United States.

The event that was certain to capture most attention Thursday was set to take place in the afternoon, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who named Mueller, will brief all 100 members of the Senate on the inquiry.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to depart for his first foreign trip as president Friday. The appointment Wednesday of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel to investigate Russia's role in the election means the scandal will be front burner news. "You can't let them get you down, can't let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams".

He said he respected the special counsel appointment but also said it "hurts our country terribly". Tim Scott, R-S.C. "I do think that the special prosecutor provides a sense of calm and confidence perhaps for the American people, which is incredibly important".