Donald Trump says he fired James Comey because he was 'unpopular'

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A day after the so-called "Comey memo" ricocheted through Washington and effectively resulted in the naming of a special counsel to probe what President Trump once called "this Russian Federation thing", Vice President Pence filed paperwork to launch his own political action committee.

The Great America Committee, registered with the Federal Elections Commission on Wednesday, is created to raise Pence's visibility and to channel funds to Republicans running for Congress in 2018.

"No. No. Next question", Trump told a news conference in the White House, when asked if he "in any way, shape or form" ever urged Comey to end the probe. But a spokesman for the senator later said that Flynn still has time to comply if he chooses to.

"The action shows the urgency of investigating Trump-Russia possible collusion and interference in our election".

Appearing at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Pence received polite applause as he offered greetings from President Donald Trump, whom Pence described as "a champion of American workers and American free enterprise".

Trump fired Flynn on Feb 14 for misleading Vice-President Mike Pence about the extent of his conversations past year with Russia's ambassador.

Rosenstein's highly-anticipated appearance came after a week of major developments that flowed from the Comey firing.

"If I were Mr. Mueller I would jealously guard the witness pool", Graham said.

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Rosenstein, the No 2 Justice Department official, named Mueller amid mounting pressure in Congress for an independent investigation beyond existing FBI and congressional probes into the Russian Federation issue. One of the attendees, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Rosenstein as anxious and nervous and said he drank multiple glasses of water "and spilled one". In that capacity, it seems somewhat hard to believe that Flynn's warning to White House counsel Don McGahn that he was under investigation never made it to Pence's ears.

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

On Wednesday, Trump had said no politician in history "has been treated worse or more unfairly" than himself.

"The general consensus is it was a good decision to pick a special counsel", said South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, saying most lawmakers have "a lot of confidence in Mr. Mueller", who ran the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 12 years.

"Director Comey was very unpopular with most people", Trump said.

The senior Pence adviser behind the PAC, in an interview with Bloomberg, cast the group as part of Pence's effort to boost the president's legislative agenda.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Comey wrote a memo following a dinner meeting with Trump. It cited two people briefed on the call.

Even before the Comey memo dropped, this adviser remarked to CNN on whether Pence would make any explanatory statements about the meeting between Trump and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak: "I certainly hope not".

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