The Washington Post is reporting that a senior White House adviser is a significant "person of interest" in the investigation of possible ties between Donald Trump's election campaign and Russia.
The May 19 report came amid a deepening political crisis for Trump, as an FBI investigation and three separate congressional committees probe alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
The Justice Department on May 17 appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation.
The Post report cited people familiar with the situation as its sources.
It came at the same time as a report was published by The New York Times that said Trump told Russian officials at a White House meeting last week that firing FBI Director James Comey relieved "great pressure" that the president was facing from the ongoing probe into Russia and the election.
According to the Times, Trump told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that Comey was a “nut job,” the newspaper said, citing a document -- based on notes taken in the Oval Office -- summarizing the meeting and read to the newspaper by a U.S. official.
"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job," Trump reportedly said. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off."
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on May 19.
Before he was fired, Comey was leading the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible ties to Trump's campaign.
“The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it," Spicer said. "Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
With reporting by The Washington Post, The New York Times, AFP, and Reuters