Intelligence chiefs: No pressure from Trump administration on Russian Federation probe

Comey's first public appearance since he was sacked by U.S. President Donald Trump might shed more light on a probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into alleged Russian meddling in last year's U.S. presidential election.

The statement also confirms what Comey's associates have said previously, in anonymously sourced reports, that Comey told them that Trump asked him at a January dinner to pledge his loyalty to the president and, at an Oval Office meeting weeks later, asked Comey to consider letting go an FBI investigation into Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Trump fired Comey on May 9, later calling him a "showboat" and "grandstander" in an interview with NBC News' Lester Holt.

US stocks moved slightly higher in afternoon trading Wednesday as gains in banks were partially outweighed by a slide in energy companies following a steep slump in crude oil prices.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who took over after Comey was sacked, will also be at the hearing.

"In a legal sense, we're not independent of the Department of Justice", Comey told Congress last month. He said the President responded, "that's what I want".

But Comey wrote that Trump said, of Flynn, "He is a good guy".

"The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President's request, which we did not intend to abide", Comey wrote. "I expect loyalty" during a January dinner, according to documents released a day ahead of his planned testimony.

"If we feel he crosses a line, we'll fire back", said Ed Rollins, chief strategist of Great America PAC, the political arm of the group airing the Comey ad.

Trump has consistently pushed back against suggestions that his campaign coordinated with Russian Federation and has called the investigation a hoax.

The Republican Party also singled out the same helpful passages of Comey's testimony. McCain has been perhaps the sharpest congressional critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and McCain has suggested the creation of a select committee to investigate Russian interference.

"Democrats are almost united in their suspicions of Trump, with 88 percent saying he fired Comey in May to protect himself and 87 percent saying Trump is trying to interfere with investigations of possible Russian influence in the election". Over these two days, four current intelligence officials, along with one former one, will all be testifying under oath before the same Senate panel.

I have to say though that I think, you compare the two, that Watergate pales really in my view compared to what we're confronting now.

On Tuesday evening a person familiar with the situation said Comey had told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he did not want to be left alone with Trump.

The directors of national intelligence and the National Security Agency say they are in discussions with the White House about whether their conversations with President Donald Trump are protected by executive privilege.

He says Mr Trump then made his statement about loyalty.

"I have never felt pressure to intervene, interfere in any way for shaping intelligence in any way", Coats said at one point.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding two days of closely watched hearings that might - or might not - shed new light on the state of the Russian Federation investigation.

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