Before Comey testifies, USA intel chiefs have their say

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A day before former FBI Director James Comey's high-profile hearing, senators plan to question senior intelligence officials about Trump's controversies and the Russian Federation investigation at a hearing that is supposed to be about re-authorizing a key section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

US Vice President Mike Pence (left) shakes hands with FBI Director James Comey watched by US President Donald Trump at the White House on January 22, 2017.

Comey will be the center of attention Thursday during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, where he is expected to be quizzed intensely about his interactions with Trump and why he made a decision to keep secret the president's request to end the Flynn investigation.

According to the report, which cited current and former White House officials, Comey told Sessions that private interactions between himself and Trump were inappropriate.

The president asserted that Comey told him three times that he was not personally under investigation, while the former director's associates allege Trump asked Comey if he could back off an investigation into Michael Flynn, who was sacked as national security adviser because he misled the White House about his ties to Russian Federation. A Justice Department spokesman, Ian Prior, said that "the attorney general doesn't believe it's appropriate to respond to media inquiries on matters that may be related to ongoing investigations".

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Trump fired Comey on May 9, a step that stunned Washington and intensified scrutiny of the matter. Since then, Trump and Comey allies have traded competing narratives about their interactions. Andrew McCabe, the acting Federal Bureau of Investigation director, is also expected to testify at Wednesday's hearing.

The New York Times first reported last month that Trump asked Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation.

It was in that conversation that Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into Flynn, and encouraged him to investigate leaks, the people said.

Comey is said to have written detailed notes about conversations he had with Trump, which reportedly document the president's efforts to scuttle the FBI's Flynn probe.

"I wish him luck", Trump told reporters as he met with Republican congressional leaders. "I hope you can let this go".

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