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Summary

  1. President Trump warns fired FBI chief Comey over media leaks
  2. Comey was leading inquiry into alleged Trump campaign-Russia ties
  3. President's account of their dinner conversation differs from people close to Comey
  4. Democrats call for an independent special prosecutor

Live Reporting

By Rebecca Seales, Tom Spender and Max Matza

All times stated are UK

That's all folks

Here endeth our live coverage for today. You can follow the latest on "Comeygate" here.

We leave you with a clip of Michelle Obama today criticising the Trump administration's decision to suspend federal rules to make school lunch healthier. 

"Think about why someone is OK with your kids eating crap," the former US first lady says of her pet project. 

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California Democrats send warning

Protesters in San Diego gathered outside a Republican retreat to send a message.

They spelled out "2018", indicating that they are mobilising for the upcoming midterm elections.

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The BBC take on a fast-moving morning

Trump 'overshadowing his own work'

'Every word picked apart'

Spicer again grouses about what he depicts as an overly adversarial relationship between the press and the White House.

"We work day and night to make sure that we get you the most up-to-date, accurate information at all times.

"I think the president’s point… is that there are times when we’re asked a question, we do our best to give you the answer and every word is picked apart to try to figure out how to make an issue out of it."

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Spicer loyalty pledge?

Sean Spicer
AFP
Spicer denied Trump had demanded a promise

Spicer says he was not asked to take a pledge of loyalty to Trump before he was hired.

"I’ve pledged my loyalty to the constitution and to the American people," he says, "as has everyone who serves in our government and this administration, and we stand by that."

Senate wants Russia briefing

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (Republican) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) have written to the Department of Justice and the FBI to request a briefing on "the Russia investigation".

In a letter addressed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Acting FBI Director McCabe, they demand a follow-up briefing to the one provided by Comey on 3 May.

"The committee leaders requested that the FBI and Justice Department call to set dates for the briefings by 5 pm today," they write, also providing both their office's phone numbers. 

Wikileaks bounty for Comey 'tapes'

Wikileaks says it is offering a $100,000 (£75,000) reward for the Trump-Comey "tapes" President Trump suggested may exist in a tweet earlier today.

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Where's the beef?

Sean Spicer
European Photopress Agency
The real meat of the briefing awaits...

Spicer kicked off his return to the podium this week by talking about the US beef industry. 

Critics point out the elephant in the room on Friday - Trump's tweets this morning.

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Trump 'out of control'?

A former FBI official told a White House journalist that the "implicit threat to the FBI" indicates that Trump is "out of control", says one journalist.

When asked to respond, Spicer said that is "frankly offensive".

Sean Spicer
Getty Images
Sean Spicer

'Pleasure of the president'

Spicer says: "The bottom line is, is that the director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the president."

Of Comey's eventual successor, the press secretary says the president wants to make sure we have "the right person".

The recruitment process is being headed by the Department of Justice, he adds, which is screening candidates and will share that list with the president.

White House Correspondents' Association alarmed

The White House Correspondents' Association is warning President Trump not to follow through on that hint that he could do away with press briefings.

The media organisation’s president, Jeff Mason of Reuters, said: "That exercise, conducted in full view of our republic’s citizens, is clearly in line with the spirit of the First Amendment.

"Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the US system, no political figure is above being questioned."

Trump dismayed

Spicer says Trump is "dismayed" by attempts to "parse every little word" uttered during White House press briefings.  

Earlier, Trump tweeted a veiled threat to cancel the daily press briefings.

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'No loyalty pledge'

"No," Spicer responds when asked about a report that the president asked Comey during their January dinner if he could count on his loyalty.

Recording devices?

Press secretary Sean Spicer is back up. 

He is asked about this intriguing tweet from the president...

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The press secretary is asked if there are any recording devices in the Oval Office, and whether the president taped a private dinner conversation with former FBI Director James Comey.

"The president has nothing further to add on that," Spicer says. Three times.    

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Trump base is 'thrilled' about firing - conservative radio host

What exactly is 'America First'?

The BBC's Tara McKelvey asks McMasters to define America First.

"The president is prioritising the security and interests of the American people", the national securtiy adviser explains.

"Every theme of this trip is consistent with this approach", he says.

"This trip is going to be a tremendous way to solidify the gains already made."

'America First didn't mean America alone'

McMasters
Pool

McMaster says the US doesn't have to do and bankroll "everything", but adds that nor does it mean "American not leading".

"America First didn't mean America Alone ever," the national security adviser says.  

He adds Trump "will be welcome in all the places he is visiting on this trip" and that America's allies must do more to share the burden of defence.

'Trans-national terrorists'

McMaster says President Trump has made no final decision on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan.

He says the Afghan army is currently taking the brunt of the fight against "trans-national terrorists".

McMaster will only talk about the trip

The national security adviser refuses to take questions on the firing of Comey.

His own predecessor, Michael Flynn, was fired after less than 30 days on the job.

Trump's 'message of tolerance'

"He will bring a message of tolerance and hope to billions" says the national security adviser about Trump's upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome.

No president has before visited the holy lands of all three major faiths in the course of one trip, McMasters says. 

The idea to visit the three regions was Trump's, he tells reporters. 

McMaster says: "The impetus for this trip came from the president himself"… "he’s been receiving regular briefings"… his relations with foreign leaders "are off to a very strong start"… this trip "will broaden and deepen those relationships".

Trump's foreign trip

Spicer and McMaster
Reuters
Spicer and McMaster

Spicer steps aside to give the podium to National Security Adviser HR McMaster. Mr McMaster tells reporters there will be three priorities for President Trump’s first foreign trip next week to Saudi Arabia, the Vatican and Israel: reaffirming America’s global leadership, to keep building key relationships with world leaders, and to broadcast a message of unity to America’s friends and three of the world’s greatest religions.

White House press briefing begins - with a joke

"Apparently, I was little missed," said Sean Spicer, who makes his first appearance this week.

Comey 'not worried about any tapes' - source

"A source close to Comey" is still talking.

"If there is a tape, there's nothing he is worried about" that could be on it, the source tells CNN about Trump's threat to release "'tapes' of our conversation".

"It is absolutely untrue that Jim asked to have dinner or that he asked to have his job," the source said. "That is a complete fabrication."  

The BBC's Anthony Zurcher says we should expect to see Comey, or associates close to him, try to present his side of the story, as they appear to be already doing.

Nixon lawyer: 'Trump should hope there are no tapes'

President Nixon's former lawyer has warned President Trump that if there are tapes of his conversations with sacked FBI boss James Comey, as he hinted on Twitter earlier, he is the one who should worry.

John Dean has previously described Mr Trump as "more Nixonian than Nixon" in his dislike of the media.

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Russia responds to photographer row

The photographs were taken by Russian journalists, after the White House barred American media
TASS
The photographs were taken by Russian journalists, after the White House barred American media

A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign minister has responded to US criticism that Russian photographers were permitted into the White House Oval Office when US media were barred from the same event.

Critics - including former national security and CIA officials, say that allowing camera crews (and all their equipment) into the White House was a serious lapse in security.

The spokeswoman says that the criticism was "making our correspondents feel like Jews in 1933".

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Comey 'uneasy' over Trump dinner - Clapper

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More details about the January dinner that Comey attended with Trump are coming out.

Former national intelligence chief Clapper says Comey was "uneasy" about going because he thought it might "compromise the appearance of independence of the FBI".

But he went because as a serving government officer it was a matter of "professional courtesy" given that the invitation came from the president, Clapper said.

Russia probe not a 'witch hunt' - Clapper

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Former national intelligence chief Clapper has told MSNBC that in his opinion the investigation into possible links between Trump and Russia is not "fake news" or a "witch hunt", as Trump has repeatedly described it.

The probe is looking at alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow.

Clapper said it was a "dark cloud" over the Trump administration and it would be in everyone's best interest to get to the bottom of it.

FBI morale was high - Clapper

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"The morale in the FBI was very high," says General Clapper, contradicting White House claims that agents were expressing dissatisfaction with life under fired FBI chief Comey.

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Clapper has also been speaking about Mike Flynn, Trump's fired National Security Adviser. 

"I personally didn't think Mike [Flynn] had the skill set to be national security adviser," he says.  

Michael Flynn: Former US national security adviser

Former intelligence chief contradicts Trump

The former US director of national intelligence, who oversaw most US spying activities, say he does not know if there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Earlier today Trump tweeted that Clapper says "there is no collusion".

Clapper is speaking on MSNBC now.

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How do Trump supporters see Comey's dismissal?

What do Trump supporters think about Comey's firing?

Washington is in turmoil after Mr Trump fired the FBI Director. What do his supporters make of the move?  

Comey 'taken aback' by loyalty request - report

A "source close to Comey" has told CNN that the former FBI director was "taken aback" by Trump's request for a pledge of loyalty during a dinner in January.

The source says that when Comey refused, Trump requested that he take an "honesty pledge", which the source adds doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Trump and his team hate leaks and he has already tweeted a warning to Comey not to go to the media. The news that Comey's opinions are trickling out nonetheless may well anger him further.

Trump's fury prompts 77,000 retweets

At time of writing, Donald Trump's morning tweets have racked up just shy of 77,000 retweets combined - and more than 260,000 "likes".

While not all of those retweeting support his comments, there's no doubt the president is getting his message out.

A screengrab of Donald Trump's tweets from 12 May 2017
Twitter/DonaldJ.Trump

Trump's lawyers from 'Russia law firm of the year'

Tom Wright, a fellow at US think tank the Brookings Institution, has spotted that the law firm used by President Trump, Morgan Lewis, was named Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.

"You couldn't make it up," he says.

Mr Comey was leading an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow when he was fired.

Trump has described it as a "witch hunt".   

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The letter from Trump's lawyers

"With a few exceptions... your tax returns do not reflect any income of any type from Russian sources," reads a letter sent by Trump's lawyers to him last month.

The letter, which was sent to Senator Lindsey Graham, was released by the White House to the Washington press corps moments ago.

Trump made history during the election by being the first candidate in a generation not to release his tax returns.

Trump's lawyers - Sheri Dillon and William Nelson - describe the "exceptions" as profits he made from the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, a property sold to a Russian billionaire, and other fees received through the sale and rental of products at Trump-owned businesses.

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Sessions ignores questions about Comey

Jeff Sessions
Gett

US attorney general Jeff Sessions held a press conference at the Department of Justice earlier today. He refused to answer any questions at the event, where he called upon federal prosecutors to seek harsher criminal penalties during trials.

He left the press conference looking a little tight-lipped. 

US law boss Sessions orders harsher criminal sentencing

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'Take the Hatter's advice' - JK Rowling

Harry Potter author JK Rowling - a frequent Trump critic - has tweeted a passage from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

It's fair to say her message is less than complimentary.

JK Rowling tweeted a passage from Alice in Wonderland telling President Trump to be quiet. It reads: "I don’t think–" - "Then you shouldn’t talk," said the Hatter.
Twitter/JKRowling

Trump Jr defends his dad

Trump's son, Donald Jr, has come out tweeting in his father's defence.

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A different Nixon analogy

John Weaver, who was a political strategist for Republican presidential candidate John McCain when he ran against Obama in 2008, has his own Nixon analogy. 

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There was no Photoshop in the time of Nixon, either...

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Fox calling Trump