By Eric Beech and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump was hit on Friday by embarrassing leaks that a senior adviser was a "person of interest" in a probe of possible collusion with Russia during last year's election campaign and that Trump had boasted to Russian officials of firing the man heading the investigation. The reports, emerging just as Trump jetted off to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president, were likely to extend the turmoil engulfing his administration since the May 9 firing of former FBI Director James Comey. The Washington Post, citing sources familiar with the matter, did not identify the senior Trump adviser except to say that the person of interest was close to Trump, a Republican who entered the White House four months ago. U.S. law enforcement uses the term "a person of interest" to mean someone who is part of a criminal investigation but not arrested or formally accused of a crime. The person may be cooperating or have information of use to investigators. Separately the New York Times reported that Trump boasted to Russian officials at a White House meeting last week that firing Comey relieved "great pressure" the president faced from a law-enforcement probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump said, according to the Times, which cited a document summarizing the meeting and read to it by an unnamed U.S. official. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off." Trump met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to Washington in the Oval Office the day after Trump fired Comey, who was in charge of the Russia election probe. The Times said the document was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the accuracy of that account. Comey, who has not spoken publicly in the 10 days since he was fired, will testify in an open session of a U.S. Senate committee investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Committee leaders said on Friday he would appear sometime after the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on May 29. "I am hopeful that he will clarify for the American people recent events that have been broadly reported in the media,” the committee chairman, Republican Richard Burr, said in a statement announcing the appearance. POPULARITY FALLS Public approval of Trump has dropped to its lowest level since his inauguration, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday. The May 14-18 opinion poll found that 38 percent of adults approved of Trump while 56 percent disapproved. The remaining 6 percent had "mixed feelings." U.S. stocks immediately pared gains after the reports but still closed higher for a second straight day. [nL2N1IL1R6] Earlier this week, investors dumped stocks in response to reports that Trump in February had asked Comey to stop investigating his former national security adviser, prompting accusations the president may have tried to hamper the probe. "As the president has stated before - a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity," White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement in response to the Post report. After days of political tumult in Washington, the Justice Department announced the appointment on Thursday of a special counsel to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign. The Times report added to the impression given by Trump himself in a television interview last week in which he said the Russia issue was a factor in firing Comey. The White House has given different versions of the reasons for the dismissal. Asked about the Times report, Spicer said of the former FBI chief, "by grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia's actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia." "The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it," Spicer said, adding that the real story was the leaks of "private and highly classified conversations." 'INFLECTION POINT' Democrats, who have compared the widening scandal to the Watergate break-in and cover-up that in 1974 brought down Republican former President Richard Nixon, were quick to pounce on the latest reports. Democratic Senator Edward Markey called them "seismic revelations," and he questioned whether the United States might be heading into a constitutional crisis. "This is an inflection point in the entire Russia collusion investigation," he told MSNBC. "It makes it very clear that what Donald Trump was trying to do was to end the Russian investigation." "This is what OBSTRUCTION looks like: 'I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,'" Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said on Twitter. Before the latest reports, the White House had hoped to shift attention away from the political firestorm in Washington to foreign policy as well as the president's ambitious pro-business economic agenda in Congress. Trump's trip, which also includes stops in Israel, Italy and Belgium next week, has been billed by the administration as a chance to visit places sacred to three of the world's major religions while giving him time to meet with Arab, Israeli and European leaders. Trump, who has embraced what he describes as an "America First" approach to U.S. foreign policy and international trade, is expected to be welcomed warmly by leaders in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Lingering questions over his views on the Iran nuclear deal, commitment to NATO security and skepticism of the Paris climate agreement, however, could generate tension at meetings with European counterparts in Brussels and Sicily. (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Steve Holland, John Walcott and Eric Beech; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Frances Kerry and Howard Goller)
Donald Trump says Mitch McConnell has a 'death wish' and insults his wife, Elaine Chao, after the senator voiced support for the Electoral Count Act reforms
Trump's remarks demonstrate a growing schism between him and McConnell, as the senator increasingly distanced himself from the former president.
- Business Insider
The US Navy said 'traces' of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.
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- Panthers Wire
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- The Daily Beast
ILYA PITALEVMoscow celebrated the annexation of huge swathes of Eastern Ukraine Friday but President Vladimir Putin’s party was wrecked by a lightning counter-attack that may have trapped thousands of his men in a key city supposedly now part of Russia. “This is the will of millions of people,” Putin said at a glitzy ceremony in front of high-ranking Russian diplomats still in the country. “People living in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region are becoming our compatriots for
Letters exchanged between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and former U.S. President Donald Trump between April 2018 and August 2019 have recently been published. “I am ready to work with your excellency with all my heart and devotion,” Kim said in a letter dated April 1, 2018, nearly six weeks before he first met Trump at the Singapore Summit. On the same day, Trump responded that he was “happy to meet” Kim to “drastically” improve relations between their respective governments.
KYIV (Reuters) -Russia said on Saturday its troops had abandoned the key bastion of Lyman in occupied eastern Ukraine, a stinging defeat that prompted a close ally of President Vladimir Putin to call for the possible use of low-grade nuclear weapons. The announcement came just a day after Putin proclaimed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions - including Donetsk, where the city of Lyman is located - and placed them under Russia's nuclear umbrella, at a ceremony that was condemned by Kyiv and the West as an illegitimate farce.
David Beckham Is 'Appalled' By His Son, Brooklyn, Airing Family Drama With His New Wife: 'We Don't Do This in Our Family'
David Beckham reportedly confronted his 23-year-old son Brooklyn after his new wife Nicola Peltz gave a candid interview with Grazia Magazine. In it, Peltz opened up about headlines that reported her and her mother-in-law, Victoria Beckham, were butting heads. The actress addressed the root of the rumors, which revolved around a dust-up with her wedding […]
- Miami Herald
The images that have come out of Southwest Florida — during and after Hurricane Ian — are jarring.
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- Detroit Free Press
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A 4-foot 'shark' was filmed swimming in a flooded backyard after Hurricane Ian pummeled southwest Florida — and yes, the video was deemed real
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As Donald Trump and his eldest kids Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric tend to their $250 million business fraud lawsuit in New York, the three adult children are handling the legal situation in their own unique ways. Ivanka is choosing a much different strategy than her brothers by completely ignoring the drama publicly. Ivanka is […]
- Ukrayinska Pravda
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- The Independent
The couple’s Clooney Foundation for Justice recognised journalists, lawyers and rights groups
- The Daily Beast
Joe Raedle/GettyRescue crews going house to house in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ian have encountered harrowing scenes, including scores of stranded people and at least one house that was completely submerged with human remains inside.Kevin Guthrie, Florida’s emergency management director, said during a Friday morning press briefing that authorities are reviewing 21 fatalities to see if they’re related to the catastrophic hurricane. The death toll is expected to rise as many parts of Lee Co
- The Hill
Missouri Senate candidate Eric Schmitt (R) is leading Democratic challenger Trudy Busch Valentine by 11 percentage points, according to a new Emerson College Polling-The Hill survey released Friday. The poll of likely Missouri voters showed 49 percent of respondents saying they would support Schmitt if the Senate election were held today compared to Busch Valentine…
Visual guide to powerful Hurricane Ian, which has caused devastation in Cuba and Florida
- The Hill
Former President Trump is headed to Michigan on Saturday for the latest in a series of campaign rallies. But the event, to be held in Warren, will only sharpen questions about whether Trump’s influence is backfiring against the GOP in general election campaigns. The most prominent candidate Trump has backed in the Wolverine State, conservative…
- CBS News
Tropical Storm Orlene became a hurricane Saturday.
- ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
DeMaurice Smith vows to pursue “every legal option” regarding the handling of Tua Tagovailoa on Sunday
The biggest concern emerging from Thursday night’s game between the Dolphins and Bengals is whether Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa should have been playing. As explained by Michael Smith on the Amazon postgame show, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith texted to Andrew Whitworth (a former NFLPA player rep) and Richard Sherman (a member of [more]