May 19, 2017 8:04 PM
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told Russian diplomats last week his firing of "nut job" James Comey had eased the pressure on him, even as the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation had moved into the White House, according to reports Friday that pursued the president as he began his maiden foreign trip.
White House hopes that Trump could leave scandalous allegations at home were crushed in a one-two punch of revelations that landed shortly after his departure. A Washington Post report, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, said a senior Trump adviser is now considered a "person of interest" in the law enforcement investigation into whether Trump's campaign associates coordinated with Russia in an effort to sway the 2016 election.
And The New York Times reported that the president had told Russian officials he felt the dismissal of his FBI director had relieved "great pressure" on him. The White House has said the firing was unrelated to the FBI's Russia investigation.
Late Friday, the Senate intelligence committee announced that Comey had agreed to testify at an open hearing at an undetermined date after Memorial Day.
Comey will certainly be asked about encounters that precipitated his firing, including a January dinner in which, Comey has told associates, Trump asked for his loyalty. In the Oval Office weeks later, Comey told associates, the president asked him to shut down an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey is known to produce memos documenting especially sensitive or unsettling encounters, such as after the February meeting.
Comey turned down an invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.The new headlines were a fresh indication that Trump would not be able to change the subject from what appears to be an intensifying investigation reaching toward the president and his inner circle.
The White House repeated its assertion that a "thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity."
It did not deny the Times report that Trump was critical of Comey to the Russians the day after he fired him.
The Times reported Trump noted the Russia investigation as he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak of his decision to fire Comey.
"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," the Times reported that Trump said during the May 10 meeting. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off."
White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the president's rhetoric part of his deal-making.
"By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia," Spicer said. "The investigation would have always continued, and obviously the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations."
As for the separate report of a "person of interest" under investigation, the Post said the senior White House adviser "under scrutiny" is someone close to the president but did not name the person.
Among Trump's senior White House advisers are several former campaign officials, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway. In March, Kushner volunteered to answer lawmakers' questions about meetings he had with Russian officials during the transition.
A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not discuss information provided in classified briefings and said the House Oversight committee had already asked for documents related to Comey's firing.
Earlier this week, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to take over the federal investigation in an effort to re-establish independence from the White House.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told Congress Friday he stands by a memo he wrote bluntly criticizing Comey. But he made clear it was not his intention for Trump or other White House officials to use the document to justify firing Comey, which is what they have done.
In closed-door meetings with lawmakers on Thursday and Friday, Rosenstein said he wrote the memo after Trump told him one day before the May 9 firing that he wanted to dismiss Comey. Rosenstein said that though he was personally fond of Comey, "I thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader."
The Justice Department on Friday released the text of Rosenstein's opening remarks for the briefings on Capitol Hill.
Trump has said he plans to nominate a new FBI director soon, but there was no announcement Friday.
The appointment of Mueller as special counsel has drawn generally favorable comments from Democrats and from some Republicans as well. But lawmakers at both congressional sessions expressed frustration that Rosenstein would say little in answer to their questions about his actions — or others' — before Comey's firing.
"There was considerable frustration in the room," said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., a member of the Armed Services Committee. "This renewed my confidence that we should not have confidence in this administration. I don't think (Rosenstein) did a lot to bolster our confidence in him today."
The White House has struggled since Comey's firing to explain the chain of events that led to it and the Justice Department's involvement in that decision. Trump has insisted at times that the decision was his alone, but he also has pointed to the "very strong" recommendation from Rosenstein.
Rosenstein made it clear to the lawmakers that he drafted his memo only after Trump told him of his plans to dismiss the FBI director. "My memorandum is not a statement of reasons to justify a for-cause termination," he said. But he added, "I wrote it. I believe it. I stand by it."
The memo focused on Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, particularly the FBI director's decision to divulge details to the public at various junctures during her presidential campaign against Trump. Rosenstein denounced that decision as "profoundly wrong and unfair."
Trump has reacted furiously to the appointment of a special counsel, a prosecutor with wide authority to investigate Russia's interference and other potential crimes uncovered. However, at a combative news conference Thursday, he fell short in trying to resolve questions about investigations into his campaign and his first four months in office.
Asked point-blank if he'd done anything that might merit prosecution or even impeachment, Trump said no — and then added of the lingering allegations and questions: "I think it's totally ridiculous. Everybody thinks so."
1 hour 8 minutes agoA Manchester man was arrested after police determined he caused head injuries to an infant under six months of age. (More)
1 day 25 minutes agoFour bears have been an ongoing problem for over a year in Hanover despite efforts from police and the community to stop them. (More)
23 hours 21 minutes agoHigh astronomical tides will occur over several cycles along the New Hampshire seacoast from Thursday into Memorial Day, causing flooding in vulnerable areas. (More)
May 23, 2017 6:52 PMPolice seized over $250,000 worth of drugs along with numerous firearms after finding a marijuana growing operation in a house that caught on fire....
2 hours 51 minutes agoHome searches across Manchester have uncovered important items for the investigation into the concert bombing that left 22 people dead. (More)
20 hours 34 minutes agoWhen it comes to simple assault, St. Paul's School of Concord gets to determine when to report these cases to the police. (More)
May 23, 2017 3:17 PMThe space where a McDonald's had resided at Hampton Beach for decades will be replaced by a walk-up seafood restaurant for Summer 2017. (More)
May 23, 2017 4:15 PMPolice stopped and arrested a NH mom for aggravated DWI with three of her children, all under the age of 16, in the vehicle....
May 23, 2017 3:36 PMOwen Labrie has filed an appeal after a judge denied his request for a new trial last month. He had requested a new trial...
May 23, 2017 1:53 PMFive of the 13 accused sexual predators who previously worked at St. Paul's School in Concord remain free. (More)
May 22, 2017 12:31 PMSexual misconduct allegations against 13 former faculty and staff members at St. Paul's School in Concord ranged from repeated sexual relationships to rape. (More)
May 22, 2017 2:55 PMPolice received a call that a woman was intoxicated while driving her 4-year-old to a residence in Lebanon. (More)
May 22, 2017 2:02 PMConcord Police said a report accusing 13 former faculty and staff members engaged in sexual misconduct blindsided their department. (More)
May 22, 2017 3:03 PMA woman and man from Newfields have been indicted in connection with a Newmarket man's overdose death. Christopher Marmat, 39, died of Fentanyl intoxication....
May 22, 2017 11:07 AMCabbie says after woman refused to pay cab fare from Manchester club and began yelling, he drove her to the Manchester police HQ. (More)
May 22, 2017 8:40 AMPolice say Nashua boy was assaulted after a pair of men he knew broke into his home. (More)
May 20, 2017 3:24 PMThe University of New Hampshire's Class of 2017 officially graduated on Saturday with an inspirational send off. (More)
May 19, 2017 7:51 AMA NH man was arrested after police said he dropped his pants and began to defecate on the sidewalk across from their Manchester headquarters....
May 19, 2017 12:50 PMThe Coast Guard says authorities have suspended the search for a small plane that apparently crashed into the ocean in the Bahamas with four...
May 18, 2017 11:22 PMStrong thunderstorms downed trees and powerlines across New Hampshire. (More)
May 18, 2017 3:34 PMNew Hampshire State Police said they have found the body of a missing woman in the Pemigewasset River during a search Thursday morning. (More)
May 18, 2017 4:54 PMAfter police issued a warrant for her arrest, a woman accused of hosting an underage drinking party turned herself in to the Goffstown Police....
May 18, 2017 2:14 PMEven by mid-summer standards, Thursday would be considered a very hot day. High temperatures reaching the middle to upper 90s will make it one of the warmest May days on record in Concord. The heat will not last long. A cold front will move through New Hampshire Friday. The...
May 17, 2017 6:06 PMThe University of New Hampshire Police Department has arrested a student accused of anti-Semitic writings in a residence hall. (More)
May 17, 2017 3:47 PMA mother's alleged drug use reportedly 'impaired her ability to be a decent parent,' leading to the death of her 2-month-old son. (More)
May 17, 2017 1:29 PMFollowing the vote to take no action against Fisher and Frost, committee member Barbara Griffin replied to the crowd's 'shame' screams with, 'not all...
May 17, 2017 9:16 AMThe USS Constitution, one of Boston's most beloved landmarks, was damaged over the weekend after an intruder managed to sneak on board. (More)
May 17, 2017 2:43 PMOfficers searched a Myrtle Street home for stolen goods Tuesday and discovered multiple illicit drugs in the home in the process, police said. (More)
May 17, 2017 12:20 PMA mother and father appeared in Concord district court Wednesday on charges that they killed their infant son. They are being held on bail....
May 17, 2017 11:41 AMAuthorities believe they found debris from a U.S.-bound plane near an island in the Bahamas but have not given up searching for the four...
May 16, 2017 12:26 PMNew Hampshire State Rep. James Spillane was arrested on May 4 for driving while intoxicated. (More)
May 16, 2017 5:06 PMPolice have arrested two adults on charges related to the death of their two-month-old infant in August 2016. (More)
May 16, 2017 6:55 PMAn officer's future with the Manchester Police Department is unclear after he allegedly committed a hit-and-run incident over the weekend. (More)
May 16, 2017 8:01 AMLaconia police are searching for a woman accused of smashing the front door of a local convenience store and stealing a pack of cigarettes....
May 16, 2017 9:53 AMA sworn officer with the Manchester Police Department turned himself in for an alleged hit-and-run accident Sunday. (More)
May 15, 2017 5:21 PMPolice recovered a large quantity of drugs and arrested four suspects in two separate incidents on Saturday. (More)
May 15, 2017 12:18 PMThe University of New Hampshire Student Executive Board terminated one of their members after she allegedly posted a photo of a man in blackface....
May 15, 2017 3:27 PMThree NH residents were arrested after police say they were conspiring to commit theft at the Merrimack outlets. (More)
May 15, 2017 2:38 PMA woman convicted of coercing her teenage lover into killing her husband believes a cake knife may keep her from freedom. (More)
May 15, 2017 10:14 AMMan had hypodermic needle plunger in his pocket. Avoids charges, but two women passengers arrested for possession of controlled drug. (More)
May 15, 2017 9:44 AMIt looks much more like Christmas Day than Mother's Day on New Hampshire's Mount Washington. (More)
May 15, 2017 9:19 AMKyle Peter Bostock, 19, of 114 Walnut Street, apartment 2, in Manchester was arrested on charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault forcible rape and...
May 14, 2017 1:05 PMPolice in South Carolina say a woman has been arrested for hitting her young son after he gave a Mother's Day card to his...
May 14, 2017 12:25 PMPolice at the University of New Hampshire are investigating swastika drawings found in a student dormitory. (More)
May 14, 2017 7:23 PMA Mother's Day nor'easter caused the N.H. Department of Transportation to remount their plows for what is hopefully the last time of the season....
May 14, 2017 11:13 AMA minor operator allegedly crashed into a motorcycle while attempting to make a left turn in Rochester. (More)
May 12, 2017 2:52 PMThe heaviest rain will fall Saturday night into Sunday morning. (More)
May 14, 2017 10:09 AMUp to 6 inches of snow fell in the Sunapee region. (More)
May 13, 2017 8:18 PMA fifth person has died following the sudden acceleration and crash of an SUV at a Massachusetts indoor auto auction. (More)