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'Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey'

13 May 2017

President Donald Trump has claimed James Comey told him on three separate occasions that he wasn't under investigation.

"Only the appointment of an independent special counsel....with full powers and resources, can begin to restore public confidence".

"We consider it to be a highly significant investigation", McCabe said.

The letter is signed by attorneys general from the following states: Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Delaware, Minnesota and Washington, D.C.

Comey's dismissal ordered by President Trump, they said, in the middle of the Russian Federation investigation is "a violation of the public trust".

In an interview aired as Rosenstein met the senators, however, Trump downplayed the influence of Rosenstein's memo.

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The poll was conducted online May 9-11 among 1,731 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

McCabe's testimony undercut a White House narrative that has evolved in the two days since Comey was ousted.

The president spoke to NBC News anchor Lester Holt in the White House Thursday about Comey's firing.

He said that serving alongside Comey was the "greatest privilege of his career", adding that the "the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to director Comey" and that it would be "not accurate" to say otherwise.

Defending the firing, White House officials said Trump's confidence in Comey had been eroding for months. "I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately".

Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin pointed out that Rosenstein's memo relies nearly exclusively on Comey's actions in the investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information on a private email system. While the letter didn't explicitly call for Comey's removal, Rosenstein wrote, "Having refused to admit his errors, the director can not be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions".

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"This is a deeply concerning moment where either the president has fired the Federal Bureau of Investigation director because he didn't like how he treated Hillary Clinton, or there's a real attempt at obstructing justice going on here", Coons said.

Comey had come under criticism from both Republicans and Democrats - for different reasons - for how he handled the investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server.

Outraged Democrats called for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia's election interference, and a handful of prominent Republican senators left open that possibility.

Comey was so careful, for example, to avoid the appearance of impropriety that during the Obama years, the 6-feet-8-inch Comey was sure to never play basketball with the then-president.

The chairman and top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee abruptly left the hearing Thursday to meet with Rosenstein, who is McCabe's boss. Although the panel was meeting as part of an annual review of threats to the U.S., Comey's dismissal was the dominant topic.

Democrats have alleged that Mr Comey was sacked because he was unhappy at the FBI's ongoing probe into the Russian Federation connection.

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Anonymous Comey associates have told US media outlets that Comey never told Trump he was not being investigated.