Trump denies urging former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief to drop Flynn inquiry

There was also the now-infamous dinner in which Trump asked Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn, which the FBI Director refused to do.

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 18, 2017, for a closed-door meeting with Senators a day after appointing former FBI director Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation into possible ties between Russian Federation and US President Donald Trump's campaign.

A self-described friend of Comey's wrote in a public blog post on Thursday that Comey had told him that he had rebuffed a Trump request for loyalty by promising only honesty.

The US President was speaking during a joint press conference with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos.

"The entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign - but I can always speak for myself - and the Russians".

There was, Trump said, "zero" collusion with Russian Federation, and he wants to get back to the business of being president.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said Rosenstein would be questioned about a letter he wrote accusing Comey of missteps as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, including his handling of an election-year probe into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

On Wednesday, former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel for the investigation into links between Trump's campaign and Russian election hacking.

The president's frustration has been building since he abruptly fired Comey. By several senators' accounts, he contradicted Trump's statements that Rosenstein's written criticism of FBI Director James Comey had been a factor in Comey's recent firing by the president. The Mueller appointment will, at least temporarily, relieve some of the pressure on congressional Republicans who've publicly complained that the constant drama and serial controversies at the White House were hindering their ability to work on their policy agenda. "I think it divides the country, I think we have a very divided country because of that many other things".

When the news broke this week that President Trump had passed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister at a White House meeting, administration officials said the story was "false".

The announcement, the latest in the shock-a-day Washington saga, was made a day ahead of Rosenstein's scheduled closed-door appearance Thursday afternoon before the Senate.

But Mr Trump said the issue was dividing an already polarised nation.

Mr Trump is leaving on Friday for his first foreign trip as US President, which aides hope can have the effect of refocusing a White House in disarray.

When further asked whether he urged Comey in any way to back down the investigation, Trump interrupted the reporter and proceeded to the next question.

Asked about possible obstruction of justice, Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters the special counsel would "follow the facts where ever they may lead" and that "it is premature to prejudge anything at this point".

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