Embattled US president Donald Trump complained yesterday that “no politician in history” has been treated worse than him.
But while Democrats demanded an independent commission to investigate his firing of FBI director James Comey, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan cautioned against “rushing to judgment”.
Mr Ryan said Congress needs to get the facts, but “it is obvious there are some people out there who want to harm the president”.
Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on a key House oversight panel, countered that Mr Ryan and the Republicans had shown “zero, zero, zero appetite for any investigation of President Trump”.
The White House has denied reports that Mr Trump pressed Mr Comey to drop an investigation into Mr Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
In addition, Mr Trump is facing pointed questions about his discussions with Russian diplomats during which he is reported to have disclosed classified information.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has even offered to turn over to Congress records of Mr Trump’s discussions with the diplomats.
The White House has played down the importance and secrecy of the information Mr Trump gave to the Russians, which had been supplied by Israel under an intelligence-sharing agreement.
Mr Trump himself said he had “an absolute right” as president to share “facts pertaining to terrorism” and airline safety with Russia. Yet US allies and some members of Congress have expressed alarm.
Republicans and Democrats alike were eager to hear from Mr Comey, who has increasingly emerged as a central figure in the unfolding drama.
The Senate intelligence committee yesterday asked Mr Comey to appear before the panel in both open and closed sessions. The committee also asked acting FBI director Andrew McCabe to give the committee any notes that Mr Comey might have made regarding discussions he had with White House or justice department officials about Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Mr Putin told a news conference that he would be willing to turn over notes of Mr Trump’s meeting with the Russian diplomats if the White House agreed. He dismissed outrage over Mr Trump’s disclosures as US politicians whipping up “anti-Russian sentiment”.
Asked what he thinks of the Trump presidency, Mr Putin said it is up to the American people to judge and his performance can be rated “only when he’s allowed to work at full capacity”, implying that someone is hampering Mr Trump’s efforts.
Mr Trump has not directly addressed the latest allegations that he pressured Mr Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. But the swirling questions about his conduct were clearly on his mind when he told graduates at the US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut that “no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly”.