Fired FBI Director James Comey to testify before Congress

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That turns out to be the last meeting between Trump and Comey, but the two talk by phone at least twice more before Trump fires Comey on May 9.

"He described the Russian Federation investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country", the statement said of Trump in the March 30 phone call, adding that Trump had asked how to "lift the cloud".

Comey's testimony was released by the Senate intelligence committee hours after lawmakers sparred with top intelligence chiefs who refused to answer the panel's questions about conversations they had with Trump regarding the Russian Federation probe. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".

It's a different narrative than the one the White House shopped around in the wake of Comey's firing.

In a private White House dinner with Trump on January 27, Comey says the topic of the "salacious material" again came up and he reveals that Trump was considering asking the FBI to investigate the origins of the claims.

Meyers then provided a dramatic reading of Comey's infamous dinner with the president, calling it less "All the President's Men" and more a "Lifetime Original movie".

Asked if Trump had acted appropriately, Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr said: "I don't think that from what I've read there's anything of wrongdoing, but I will match that with his (Comey's) verbal testimony, and weigh it against the evidence of our investigation to date".

He plans to say that though he did assure Trump that he was not personally under investigation, he was taken aback by specific requests, including one from February in which he said the president encouraged him to bring to an end a probe into one of his advisers.

Comey's statement came hours after two top USA spy agency chiefs skirted questions from the Senate panel about whether the president also "asked" them to intervene in the Flynn probe, while saying they never felt pressured to do so. Nine times, Comey said.

On March 20, he revealed publicly that the FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign since last July - in a House hearing which prefaced the House investigation nearly spiraling out of control.

The facts and circumstances described in Comey's planned testimony are eyebrow-raising, and two details in particular struck some legal experts as particularly problematic.

"If I was his defense attorney, I would do everything I could do to ask him not to live-tweet during Comey's testimony". One talking point notes: "The testimony also confirms that President Trump did not impede or engage in obstruction of justice of the investigation".

Comey is a veteran at testifying before Congress - having filled the role now held by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein more than a decade ago and testified regularly as the Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

The Republican president's unconstrained use of Twitter has confounded allies and skeptics alike.

"Our bullhorn, if you will, is a very large and helpful tool in getting this message out", the senior RNC official said. "Don´t get in the way of an investigation that could actually clear you", Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told Fox News on Wednesday.

"Graham on Wednesday told Fox News that if Comey's statements truly amounted to obstruction of justice, special counsel Robert Mueller would not allow him to testify publicly".

Comey may also decline many questions, out of a desire not to influence an ongoing investigation.

Comey stays behind in a conference room to speak privately with Trump after intelligence officials brief the president-elect in his NY headquarters about explosive findings that the Russians tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. He also said he implored Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shield him from future one-on-one conversations with the President.