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National Govt & Politics
Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report
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Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report

Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report
Photo Credit: Pool/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a "hallmark of our democracy." (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report

President Donald Trump told Russian officials during a meeting last week that firing FBI Director James Comey relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a report from The New York Times.

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Trump spoke about the decision to fire Comey one day after dismissing the top cop, The Times reported, citing a document that summarized the May 10 meeting. The document was read to the newspaper by an American official.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump shared classified, sensitive information related to the fight against the Islamic State May 10 during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

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Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report

 

The White House has denied the report. 

"I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Trump said at the meeting, according to the Times report. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. ... I'm not under investigation.”

Multiple investigations into ties between Russia and Trump and his advisers are ongoing. At least one is focused on whether Trump obstructed justice by pressuring Comey to drop his investigation into former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

>> Related: Report: Trump asked Comey to drop Flynn investigation

The White House has denied any wrongdoing by the president. Trump has characterized the investigations as being part of a "witch hunt."

In a statement released to The Times, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Comey put "unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia" because of Comey's "grandstanding and politicizing (of) the investigation into Russia's actions."

>> Related: Who are key players in the Russia/Trump saga?

"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.”

>> Related: House committee wants Comey to testify about Trump, Russia probe

American journalists were barred from the May 10 meeting between Trump and Russian officials, although a photographer working for Russian state-owned media was allowed to photograph the event.

National Security adviser H.R. McMaster was also present for the meeting. He denied on Tuesday that anything inappropriate was discussed by Trump.

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Trump told Russian officials firing 'nut job' Comey relieved pressure on him: report

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  • While power has been restored to the world's busiest airport, the travel woes will linger for days.Thousands of people were stranded Monday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where more than 1,000 flights were grounded just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush.A sudden power outage that Georgia Power said was caused by a fire in an underground electrical facility brought the airport to a standstill Sunday about 1 p.m.All outgoing flights were halted, and arriving planes were held on the ground at their point of departure. International flights were being diverted, officials said.Delta Air Lines, with its biggest hub in Atlanta, will be hardest hit. By Sunday evening, Delta had already canceled nearly 900 flights and another 300 Monday, nearly all of them in Atlanta, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.Robert Mann, an aviation consultant and former American Airlines executive, said it likely will be Tuesday before Delta's operations in Atlanta return to normal, and for passengers 'it could be most of the week' because there aren't many open seats on other flights in the last week before Christmas.One bit of good news, according to Mann: Delta has more spare planes and available crews in Atlanta than anywhere else, which should help it to recover.Delta customers flying to or from Atlanta can make a one-time change to travel plans without incurring a $200 change fee. The airline also encouraged travelers not to pick up their bags Monday because of anticipated congestion at the airport.Still, when flights at Atlanta were grounded for most of one day last spring, it took Delta five days — and about 4,000 canceled flights — before it fully recovered.Like Sunday's outage, that April storm hit Delta's largest hub at a busy travel time when there weren't many empty seats to accommodate customers from cancelled flights. At the time, CEO Ed Bastian vowed Delta would make 'significant improvements' to its system for scheduling and tracking aircraft crews to recover more quickly from disruptions.Other airlines also canceled flights for the rest of Sunday. American Airlines canceled 24 departures and an equal number of arrivals, said spokesman Ross Feinstein. The airline also diverted three planes that were headed to Atlanta when the outage struck, sending them instead to Dallas, Nashville and back to Philadelphia.The city of Atlanta provided shuttle service to the Georgia Convention Center on Sunday for travelers needing a place to stay.Delta passenger Emilia Duca, 32, was on her way to Wisconsin from Bogota, Colombia, when she got stuck in Atlanta. She said police made passengers who were in the baggage claim area move to a higher floor. She said restaurants and shops were closed. Vending machines weren't working.'A lot of people are arriving, and no one is going out. No one is saying anything official. We are stuck here,' she said. 'It's a nightmare.'Some passengers said there was a lack of information from airport officials and little help from first responders to get the disabled and the elderly through the airport without the use of escalators and elevators.'They had these elderly people, handicapped people lined up in wheelchairs,' said stranded passenger Rutia Curry. 'The people were helpless, they can't get down the stairs. It was just a nightmare.'Passenger James Beatty said there was no real method for evacuation.'I mean there was 40 or 50 people per the terminal area that were confined to wheelchairs and some that couldn't get through the airport very well, some of them actually couldn't walk and there was no plan at all to get them out of here without any power.'Beatty said passengers carried those who used wheelchairs down stairs.The FAA said it would staff the airport control tower throughout the night so it could handle flights once they resume. The FAA said the tower could operate normally but flights were affected because airport equipment in the terminals was not working.According to a Georgia Power statement, the utility believes a piece of equipment in an underground electrical facility may have failed, causing the fire. The fire was next to equipment for a backup system, causing that to also fail.'No personnel or passengers were in danger at any time,' the statement said.No areas outside of the airport were affected by the power loss. The utility said there are 'many redundant systems in place' to ensure the power supply to the airport and that such outages at the airport 'are very rare.'Anthony Foxx, who served as U.S. transportation secretary under former President Barack Obama, tweeted that he was among the many travelers stuck for hours on a plane on the tarmac.'Total and abject failure here at ATL Airport today,' he tweeted, adding that there was 'no excuse for lack of workable redundant power source. NONE!'In another tweet, Foxx said it seemed like the problem was 'compounded by confusion and poor communication.'Once he was off the plane, Foxx tweeted that he hoped to rent a car to drive to Charlotte, North Carolina, to catch a flight Monday morning.Sara Melillo and her husband, Greg Presto, were traveling from Kenya, where they live, to Pittsburgh to spend Christmas with his family when they were stuck on the tarmac for six hours. The couple had made stops in Nairobi and Amsterdam and landed shortly after the lights went out in Atlanta.Melillo said the pilot didn't have a lot of information for the travelers but the plane had air conditioning and attendants offered water and juice a few times. She described the Delta terminal as 'big chaos' with not enough customer service for the hundreds of people trying to find a flight to their next destination and a place to sleep for the night.With her new boarding pass handwritten and her bags still stuck on a plane, Melillo was hopeful that she and her husband would be able to get a flight in the morning to Pittsburgh, she said as she waited for an Uber ride to a hotel. But in a Monday morning email, Melillo told The Associated Press the morning flight had been rescheduled to the evening and they were going to the airport to try to get a different flight.Airport workers were distributing bottled water, and Dunkin' Donuts was giving out doughnuts. Chick-fil-A, which is usually closed on Sundays, opened to provide meals for travelers, according to the airport's Twitter feed.Officer Lisa Bender of the Atlanta Police Department said officers were at the airport to help with crowd control and managing traffic around the airport.At Southwest Airlines, about 70 Atlanta departures out of 120 scheduled for Sunday were canceled, an airline spokesman said in an email. United Airlines and JetBlue Airways were among carriers reporting delays or cancellations.American Airlines reported only a handful of diversions and cancellations because the carrier does not use Atlanta as a hub, airline spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello.Hartsfield-Jackson, which serves 104 million passengers a year, is the world's busiest airport, a distinction it has held since 1998.The airport serves an average of 275,000 passengers daily, according to its website. Nearly 2,500 planes arrive and depart each day.___AP Airlines Writer David Koenig in Dallas and Associated Press writer Robert Ray in Atlanta contributed to this report.