RNC says Trump knew firing Comey was risky

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on fired FBI Director James Comey’s prepared testimony for his scheduled appearance Thursday before the Senate Intelligence committee (all times local):

9 p.m.

The Republican National Committee says President Donald Trump knew that firing FBI Director James Comey would be “detrimental to his presidency” but believed it was the right thing to do for the country.

That’s among the talking points the RNC is providing to Trump backers ahead of Comey’s testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday.

A pair of former White House officials — Katie Walsh, who left her post as deputy chief of staff in March, and Mike Dubke, who stepped down as communications director last week — are helping the RNC effort to combat Comey’s testimony.

The RNC is encouraging supporters to focus on Comey’s acknowledgement in his prepared text that he told Trump he was not directly under investigation as part of the FBI’s Russia probe.

Republicans also say the president does want the Russia investigations to move forward, an argument the White House has used against Democrats who say Trump fired Comey in an effort to halt the FBI probe

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6:30 p.m.

Speaker Paul Ryan says it’s “obviously” inappropriate for a president to ask for loyalty from the FBI director.

Ryan made his comments after testimony emerged from ousted FBI Director James Comey in which he said President Donald Trump sought his loyalty.

Interviewed on MSNBC, the Wisconsin Republican agreed with Greta Van Susteren when she asked whether it that was inappropriate.

Ryan says FBI directors are supposed to be independent, and “that’s something that’s very critical.”

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6:20 p.m.

A top Capitol Hill ally of Donald Trump says the president is the victim of a “political witch hunt.”

New York GOP Rep. Chris Collins told reporters that Trump acted appropriately when asking former FBI Director James Comey to go easy on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who is under a federal investigation regarding his contacts with Russia.

Collins says Trump’s actions were “clearly not anywhere close to touching something called ‘obstruction of justice.'”

Collins says he is proud of Trump for sticking up for “someone who was as loyal Mike Flynn was throughout the campaign.”

In prepared testimony released Wednesday, Comey says he believes Trump was asking him to drop the FBI’s investigation into Flynn’s alleged lies about conversations the Russian ambassador in December.

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6:10 p.m.

Donald Trump’s attorney says the president feels “completely and totally vindicated” by former FBI Director James Comey’s statement to the Senate intelligence committee that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation.

Marc Kasowitz said in a statement Wednesday, “The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russian probe.”

He says: “The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with…

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