Ex-FBI chief to tell Senate committee about campaign inquiry role, as president reportedly described him to Russians as ‘nut job’
The former FBI director James Comey is to testify in public during the US inquiry into Russian interference, it has been announced, as a series of damaging revelations pile further pressure on the embattled president Donald Trump.
Comey, who was sacked by Trump on 9 May in the midst of an investigation into the president’s links to Russia, is to give evidence in an open hearing of the Senate intelligence committee at some point after US Memorial Day on 29 May, the committee announced on Friday.
The announcement came as the Washington Post reported that a White House official had been identified as a “significant person of interest” by the law enforcement investigation into links between Russia and the Trump election campaign.
The New York Times, quoting a US official, reported that Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, as he labelled the former FBI chief a “real nut job”. The president’s spokesman did not deny the report, but said Comey had made it harder for the US to engage with Russia.
Trump, who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for an official visit, has called media coverage of his alleged links to Russia, and his apparent subsequent efforts to stifle the FBI investigation, as “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history”.
The president’s administration has been dogged by claims of being too close to the Russian government since their alleged interference in the 2016 election. It has been claimed that Trump himself revealed highly confidential intelligence to Russian officials in the Oval Office.
Trump stepped off Air Force One in Riyadh on Saturday morning to begin his first international trip since taking office. The president, accompanied by the first lady, Melania Trump, was greeted by King Salman. They shook hands and Trump said it was “a great honour” to be there.
Soon after, Trump tweeted for the first time on international soil as president. “Great to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead.”