Investigators into Russian meddling in the USA presidential elections are now also probing whether White House officials have engaged in a cover-up, according to members of Congress who were briefed Friday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
In addition to the Times report, a Washington Post report published around the same time this afternoon revealed that the ongoing Russian Federation probe has labeled a senior White House official as a "significant person of interest". The Post didn't name the official.
This latest damaging story was published shortly after Trump left for Saudi Arabia to kick off a nine-day global trip, his first as commander-in-chief. The individual was described by the paper as a senior adviser who is close to the president, but the Post's sources would not further identify them.
This is according to a report from The New York Times, which cited a document about the meeting. "I also expect that Director Comey will be able to shed light on issues critical to this Committee's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election".
White House officials did not deny either story, but only stressed that Trump and his staff had no collusion with Russian Federation. Reached for comment, though, Sean Spicer ... didn't deny that Trump said it.
Two unnamed White House officials confirmed the account to the Times, while a third government official said that the comments were a negotiating tactic used by Trump.
This week, the Justice Department announced that former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller would serve as a special counsel to continue the probe into the Trump campaign and any possible ties to Russian Federation.More news: Senate intel chairman: No decision from Flynn on honoring subpoena
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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.
This development comes on the heels of former FBI Director Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel for the investigation. His answer to those questions will carry significant weight with lawmakers, who have already asked for copies of that memo.
The Times report added to the impression given by Trump himself in a television interview last week in which he said the Russian Federation issue was a factor in firing Comey. "As I said, Nixonian", said Sen. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Even so, the deputy attorney general added that a memo he wrote sharply criticizing Comey's handling of the Clinton probe was a "candid internal memorandum" that wasn't intended as "a statement of reasons to justify" the director's dismissal.
But the president undercut that argument a day later, telling NBC News, "When I made a decision to just do it, I said to myself - I said, you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story".
Mr Trump has tried to put investigations into his campaign and his first four months in office behind him.
Getting ready for my big foreign trip.