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Trump heads to Saudi as Comey agrees to testify

Sky News logo Sky News 19/05/2017

Ex-FBI boss James Comey, who was fired by Donald Trump, has agreed to testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Although the date of the hearing has not yet been set, it will be scheduled after the 29 May Memorial Day holiday, the committee said.

Committee chairman Senator Richard Burr said he wants to hear from Mr Comey on his role in the development of the US intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia interfered in last year's presidential elections.

He said he hopes Mr Comey's testimony will answer some of the questions that have arisen since Mr Comey was suddenly dismissed last week by President Trump.

Top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, said in a statement: "Director Comey served his country with honor for many years, and he deserves an opportunity to tell his story. Moreover, the American people deserve an opportunity to hear it."

The development will come as blow to White House efforts to dampen down interest in the Russia investigation as Mr Trump jetted off to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president.

The White House has been thrown into turmoil by a string of allegations against Mr Trump this week, including that he may have obstructed justice by asking Mr Comey to drop an investigation into one of his top advisors.

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that a senior White House official was now under investigation as part of an investigation over Russian efforts to tilt the elections in Trump's favour.

And The New York Times said the US president had told top Russian officials Mr Comey's sacking had relieved "great pressure" on him.

Mr Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week that Mr Comey was a "nut job," according to the Times, citing notes taken at the meeting and read to the paper by a US official.

That flies in the face of the White House's public insistence that Mr Comey's dismissal was not linked to his ongoing investigation.

On Thursday, Mr Trump declared himself the victim of the "greatest witch hunt" in American political history and denied allegations of collusion.

Earlier this week, the Justice Department appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller to oversee an independent inquiry into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign.

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