White House moves to limit damage of latest Trump controversy

Warnings against ‘rushing to judgment’ amid claims over interference in FBI inquiry

House speaker Paul Ryan: “It is obvious that there are some people out there who want to harm the president.”  Photograph: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

House speaker Paul Ryan: “It is obvious that there are some people out there who want to harm the president.” Photograph: Aaron P Bernstein/Reuters

 

US Republicans rallied behind President Donald Trump on Wednesday, a day after new revelations claimed the president had sought to interfere in an FBI investigation.

As stock markets across the world fell in response to the latest crisis to engulf the leader of the world’s largest economy, the White House struggled to contain the fallout from a New York Times report that Mr Trump tried to sway an FBI investigation into former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

But key Republicans appeared to back the president, with House speaker Paul Ryan warning against “rushing to judgment” on the latest scandal to engulf Mr Trump.

In a scheduled press conference following a meeting of congressional Republicans on Capitol Hill, the speaker of the House of Representatives said:“Our response is to be responsible, sober and to focus only on getting the facts. We are not going to try to play to the crowd, or meet time lines.”

He added “there is clearly a lot of politics being played” and continued: “There’s been a lot of reporting lately, I think that requires close examination. We need the facts. It is obvious that there are some people out there who want to harm the president.”

Possible impeachment

Democrats have responded with outrage to the latest scandal, with many arguing that the president should be impeached for obstruction of justice, the principle that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the decision to launch proceedings against Richard Nixon.

In a sign of the chaos surrounding the White House, Russia also waded into the debate, with Russian president Vladimir Putin offering to hand over a transcript of last week’s controversial meeting between the Russian foreign minister and ambassador and Mr Trump in the Oval Office during which Mr Trump discussed classified information.

As the president prepared to embark on his first foreign trip as leader on Friday, a consensus appeared to be building on Capitol Hill that fired FBI director James Comey should testify publicly. In addition, senior Republicans and Democrats from the four congressional committees overseeing investigations into Russia asked the FBI to hand over documents and tapes relevant to Mr Trump’s relationship with Mr Comey.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday after Mr Trump delivered a speech in Connecticut, press secretary Sean Spicer deflected a question as to whether the president was seeking outside legal advice on the matter.