Fired FBI Chief Testified
The recently fired director of the FBI, James Comey, said on Capitol Hill Thursday that he believed U.S. President Donald Trump was trying to get him to drop an investigation of Trump's former national security adviser, and that White House officials spread "lies, plain and simple" to cover up the reason for his dismissal.
"There's no doubt that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," Comey told lawmakers, referring to the widening investigation of Russian influence on last year's U.S. presidential election, which American intelligence agencies have said was an effort by the Kremlin to assist Trump's electoral defeat of his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The president's efforts "to change the way the Russia investigation was conducted, that is a big deal," Comey said.
Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee was his first chance to speak in public about the meetings and conversations he had with Trump during the months before he was fired. The former head of the nation's largest law-enforcement agency was questioned alternately by Republican and Democratic senators for nearly three hours; the dramatic session was covered live by all major U.S. television networks, and broadcast worldwide.
The president's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, told reporters immediately after the Senate hearing that Trump "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone."
After Comey's abrupt and stunning dismissal last month, Trump and his aides said the action was necessary because the Federal Bureau of Investigation was in disarray, and its director had lost the trust of his agents.
Report: North Korea Has Successful 'Ground-to-sea Cruise Rocket' Launch
North Korea successfully tested a new "ground-to-sea cruise rocket" that is capable of striking enemy battleships staging a military attack, the country's KCNA news agency said Friday.
Pyongyang launched several land-to-sea missiles early Thursday, under the supervision of leader Kim Jong Un, KCNA said. The missiles "accurately detected and hit the floating targets on the East Sea of Korea," it reported.
The missile test was North Korea's fourth in the span of a month, and comes after the United Nations Security Council imposed new sanctions on Kim's government last week. The three previous tests were of ballistic missiles, with North Korea appearing determined to develop a missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon and reaching the U.S. mainland.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday the resumption of talks with North Korea on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is made more difficult by Pyongyang's increasingly frequent missile tests. "We hope, at some point, the talks could resume, but we are nowhere near that point," Nauert said.
The latest missile firing came just one day after South Korea suspended the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system. Nauert said the suspension of THAAD deployment is "part of the conversations" that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had with President Donald Trump at an Oval Office meeting on Thursday. "This is a conversation that's taken place at the highest level. We are committed to our South Korean ally. That commitment remains ironclad. We are aware, certainly, of the situation and the suspension of additional launchers," Nauert said.
Seoul said it would delay the installation of remaining components of THAAD anti-missile system until it completes an assessment of the system's environmental impact.