Eight candidates for Federal Bureau of Investigation director were interviewed at Justice Department headquarters Saturday as President Donald Trump suggested a decision on a nominee to replace ousted Director James Comey could be announced within days.
On Friday, CNN's Jake Tapper reported that Comey was "taken aback" by Trump's request for a personal assurance or pledge of loyalty at a dinner shortly after he took office.
Trump has reportedly been frustrated with how White House press secretary Sean Spicer has handled Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey amid the bureau's investigation into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation to influence the election. Trump tweeted. "Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future "press briefings" and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???"
Trump said those discussions occurred once during dinner and twice over the phone.
Initial news for Trump looked bad: NBC's polling found the majority - 54 percent - of Americans found Trump's move to be inappropriate. This was echoed by Mike Pence, who said Trump was acting on the Department of Justice recommendations.
White House briefings and press conferences provide substantive and symbolic opportunities for journalists to pose questions to officials at the highest levels of the United States government, he said. "And as a effect, I was not aware of the counterintelligence investigation Director Comey first referred to during his testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee for Intelligence on the 20th of March, and that comports with my public statements". Comey's allies also quickly made clear they would defend him against attacks from Trump, including disputing the president's assertion that Comey told Trump he was not personally under investigation.
Wednesday: "People in the Justice Department made a very strong recommendation, the president followed it and he made a quick and decisive action to fire James Comey". White House officials had flatly denied that the Russian Federation investigation had something to do with Comey's firing.
Comey's people added that Comey was wary about dining with the president, but believed he couldn't turn him down.
Mr Trump's nominee must be confirmed in the Senate, where Democrats and some Republicans have fiercely criticised Mr Comey's firing.
Journalists have described a "crisis of credibility" at the White House, with lies from the briefing room podium diminishing its stature.
Mr Comey has so far been silent on his sacking, except for an internal note to staff in which he said, "I'm not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed".
The White House said Trump is weighing options for replacing Comey, a decision that could have broad implications for the future of the Russian Federation investigation.
But early Friday afternoon, MSNBC had Clapper on to explain, once and for all, why Trump's tweet is dishonest.
President Trump went on national television Thursday and openly admitted that he committed an impeachable offense.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing that Trump did not demand Comey's loyalty.