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Summary

  1. Ex-FBI director James Comey was asked by President Trump to drop investigation into then National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, reports say
  2. White House denies asking for inquiry to be dropped, but House committee asks FBI for relevant documents
  3. Democrats urge Republican-controlled House to allow a vote on an independent commission to investigate Trump-Russia ties
  4. President Trump also accused of leaking highly classified intelligence in meeting with top Russian officials last week
  5. Trump tells coast guard cadets "no politician in history treated worse"

Live Reporting

By Alastair Lawson

All times stated are UK

Stock markets tumble as Trump turmoil intensifies

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
AFP
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

US stocks saw their worst day in monthsafter the White House found itself engulfed in fresh controversy.

Mr Trump's plans to cut taxes and loosen regulation may now be delayed, or simply not come to fruition, some investors fear.

By the closing bell all the major indices were sharply lower, with the Dow Jones down 370 points or 1.76% at 20,609,the S&P 500 down 43 points or 1.81% at 2,357, and the Nasdaq was 158.63 points or 2.57% lower at 6,011.

Bank stocks - which have outperformed the rest of the market in recent months - suffered most.

Bank of America was down 5.9%, Goldman Sachs lost 5%, and Wells Fargo slipped 1.9%.

FBI candidates to replace James Comey to be interviewed today

President Trump attends the US Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony in New London, Connecticut
AFP
President Trump at the US Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony in Connecticut

President Trump will interview four candidates for the position of director of the FBI later today, White House spokesman Sean Spicer has informed reporters.

Speaking on board Air Force One with Mr Trump, Mr Spicer said the president would meet acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and former senior FBI official Richard McFeely.

The position became vacant after Mr Trump fired James Comey.

ACLU sues for Comey memo

This press release just dropped in BBC inboxes:

The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Justice Department and FBI seeking the memo by former FBI Director James Comey describing his February meeting with President Trump in which Trump reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his ties to Russia.

“There are serious concerns that the president may have improperly tried to obstruct an FBI investigation. The public has a right to know if that’s true,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project.

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LA Times: Seven days that shook the world

The past seven days have been the most bizarre week of the US presidency since the dark days of Watergate, says columnist Max Boot in the Los Angeles Times, with 9-16 May becoming known as "the seven days that shook the world". "[But] t is too soon to say this is the beginning of the end for a president who has already defied predictions of his political demise. Impeachment still is a long shot in a Congress so firmly dominated by the president's own party. But it is no longer unthinkable," he writes. The president has only been in office 117 days, Boot concludes, "but he has already overstayed his welcome". "For the good of the country, he should resign before our new national nightmare gets worse," he writes.

Watch our latest coverage on BBC World News America

Watch BBC World News America with Laura Trevelyan tonight for the latest updates from Washington and beyond.

She'll be speaking with the BBC's Nada Tawfik, who has just been to Nashville, Tennessee to hear what Trump supporters think of his presidency.

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What Republicans have said

Just to remind you, this is what members of Trump's own party have said about the allegations that Trump asked Comey to drop the FBI investigation.

Congressman Paul Ryan: "We need the facts... I'm sure we're going to go on to hear from Mr Comey about why, if this happened as he allegedly describes, why didn't he take action at the time."

Congressman Justin Amash: If true it would merit impeachment, he says, adding "but everybody gets a fair trial in this country".

Senator John McCain: "It's just another scandal that unfortunately continues every - it's now accelerating. Watergate took months. This thing seems to be taking hours."

'Use sword on the press'

That's what one of Mr Trump's cabinet suggested to him today.

The president was given a ceremonial sabre as a gift at the end of the graduation ceremony at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut.

When he sat back down, his Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly suggested "you can use that on the press".

The comment was heard by reporters at the event thanks to his microphone. You can hear what he said - just - in this clip.

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Is this obstruction of justice?

If Mr Trump did indeed ask the head of the FBI to ease off his investigation into a member of the government, as is being alleged, would that mean Mr Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice?

Well...it all depends on his intent. And while obstruction of justice is a criminal offence, criminal proceedings against the president are highly unlikely.

We put together an explainer on this - you can read it here.

BreakingWhite House; 'Not an accurate description'

White House spokesman Sean Spicer is denying that James Comey was asked by Mr Trump to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn and possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

He added that the president has "been very clear on this" and that the account of the conversation as reported was "not accurate".

Trump likes to read his name

Trump reading
Getty Images

As the White House readies itself for Trump's first trip abroad as president, Reuters has profiled how the president is preparing.

One insight they've found is that Trump likes to read his name in official documents:

Conversations with some officials who have briefed Trump and others who are aware of how he absorbs information portray a president with a short attention span.

He likes single-page memos and visual aids like maps, charts, graphs and photos.

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump's name in "as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he's mentioned," according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.

Read the full Reuters report here.

BreakingComey hearing to take place next Wednesday

So says Jason Chaffetz, the House of Representatives oversight committee chairman.

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This doesn't mean for definite that the former FBI chief will appear, and whether he will detail what was in a memo he reportedly wrote after meeting Mr Trump. But the invite to him is out there...

Have the markets been 'rattled'?

There's been a lot of talk today in financial forums about the stock markets being “rattled” by the Trump news, our business producer in New York John Mervin reports.

But he points out that the response may be a bit overblown.

"The stock market is overdue a correction anyway, by most measures of how often corrections take place", he says.

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Trump's Twitter silence: Is it a record?

We may have heard him speak in Connecticut earlier, but the president hasn't chosen to make his voice on heard on Twitter in some time. This was the last thing he posted there, 22 hours ago:

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Such long Twitter silences from him are unusual. But it's not a record silence for him, as the Washington Post points out - if it gets to 6.35pm BST on Thursday and he still hasn't, it will be a record.

As the Post says: "When he comes back to Twitter, he often levels a complaint about what was happening while he was offline."

What would he have to complain about now?

'The media doesn't want to see Trump do well'

Radio 4 PM

The White House has denied a report that President Trump tried to persuade the FBI to end its investigation into former aide Michael Flynn.

This is the second Trump crisis in the last 24 hours, following news that the president shared sensitive material with Russian diplomats.

But how do Republican voters feel about these allegations? We spoke to Trump supporters and commentators to find out their take on the current mood in Washington.

Any other politicians treated badly?

In case you missed it, Mr Trump said earlier that no other politician had been treated this badly.

Trump: 'No politician in history has been treated worse'

It's fair to say the claim has been met with some scepticism.

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Mar-a-Lago's wi-fi problem

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and China"s President Xi Jinping walk along the front patio of the Mar-a-Lago estate
Reuters
Mr Trump with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at Mar-a-lago

The news organisation ProPublica has just published an interesting story - they chartered a boat and took it out to sea near Donald Trump's private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he has welcomed foreign leaders.

They found that the wi-fi network could have been cracked within minutes, though they opted not to.

The incident raises more questions about security at a time the White House could probably do without more questions raising their head.

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Angry Trump ups the rhetoric

Anthony Zurcher

BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump is angry, defiant and ready to defend his record as president, in spite of the controversies currently swirling around him.

That was the key takeaway from the president’s Coast Guard Academy commencement address, which started in a restrained manner but ended with a bellicose flourish.

The speech at times sounded more like one of his campaign rallies than an address to men and women about to serve in the military. When Mr Trump has been under fire in the past, however, he has upped the rhetoric and sounded the populist battle cry that got him to the top.

“Over the course of your life, you will find that things are not always fair,” Mr Trump said in Connecticut. “You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted.”

The answer, he said, was to “put your head down and fight, fight, fight”.

Donald Trump may be against the ropes. He may be facing an uncertain future, with members of his own party quietly wondering whether to cut their president adrift in hopes of saving their own political fortunes.

But if he goes down – alone or with his party at his side – it looks like it’s going to be swinging.

Watch 100 Days on BBC World

Check out our programme with presenters Christian Fraser, Michelle Fleury and Katty Kay.

The show begins on BBC World at 14:00e/ 19:00g.

We’ll have special coverage of the fallout from allegations that President Trump had asked then-FBI Director James Comey to stop the investigation into Michael Flynn, and documented this exchange in a memo.

We’ll also hear from the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt, and get reactions from PJ Crowley, a former US state department spokesman.

We'll be speaking to law professor Jonathan Turley, who will weigh in on whether President Trump may have committed an impeachable offense.

'The Kremlin is loving this'

Steve Rosenberg

BBC Moscow Correspondent

You can't help feeling that the Kremlin is loving this.

As the US administration - and the US superpower - staggers from one crisis to the next, Russia is watching and reveling in a political rival tearing itself apart.

President Putin's comments today on America were full of sarcasm, and patronising put-downs.

The Kremlin leader joked that he would have to reprimand his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who had allegedly received classified information from Donald Trump. Mr Lavrov, the president said, "hadn't passed those secrets on to me or to Russia's secret services - and that was very bad of him!"

The Russian president said was ready to provide the US Senate and Congress with a transcript of Mr Lavrov's conversation with President Trump. But that was surely just another dig at America. He will know that it will take more than a transcript on Kremlin-headed notepaper to make this crisis go away.

Comey being called to testify

The Senate's Intelligence Committee says it has asked James Comey to appear before the panel to testify, adding that the hearing should be in public.

Mr Comey had rejected an earlier request to appear before the committee on Tuesday. He's not responded to this latest request yet.

On top of that, the committee has asked the FBI's acting director Andrew McCabe for all relevant documents, including the reported Comey memo.

BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner has a copy of the letter, and points out it has been signed by senior Republicans on the committee.

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Democrats line up to denigrate Trump

Adam Schiff speaks to the media on Wednesday
Getty Images
Adam Schiff speaks to the media on Wednesday

Democratic members of Congress have formally demanded the establishment of an independent commission to investigate links between President Trump and Russia.

At a news conference in Washington, Representative Adam Schiff - the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee - said:

I think it underscores not only the seriousness of why this investigation has to go forward, but why we have to ensure that it is fully independent, both in terms of our oversight responsibility but also in terms of if there were laws that were violated that we have an independent voice and decision maker at the justice department making those decisions.

Democratic Representative from Maryland Elijah Cummings (centre), with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley (right) and Adam Schiff (left)
EPA
The Democrat politicians are called for the president to be impeached

Representative Elijah Cummings said an impartial inquiry was essential to get to the truth:

Simply put, the Republicans are not doing their job to hold the Republican president accountable. And so it's our job to do so. And that is why we need to restore credibility, accountability, transparency by passing this legislation to create a truly independent commission. The American people deserve the answers.

Fighting talk

The president was in pugnacious form earlier as he addressed a coast guard graduation with some colourful life advice.

Here are his remarks...

Trump: 'No politician in history has been treated worse'

News organisations asked 'not to report on Trump's intelligence disclosures'

President Trump (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their 10 May meeting at the White House
AFP
President Trump (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their 10 May meeting at the White House

Some of the intelligence President Trump provided to Russian officials is so secret that US news organisations are still being asked not to report it, two officials have told NBC News.

"The requests by US intelligence officials cast doubt on the assertion by the president's aides that the sharing [of the information] was appropriate," it says.

The president told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office that the group known as Islamic State (IS) had used stolen airport security equipment to test a bomb that could be hidden in electronic devices and slipped undetected into an aircraft's cabin, the officials told NBC.

He is also alleged by the officials to have named the IS-held city in Syria from which the intelligence was gathered.

"US intelligence officials have asked NBC News and other media organizations not to report the type of equipment, where it was stolen, and the name of the city where the intelligence was gathered, because doing so could harm US national security," the NBC report says.

Trump's conduct 'may have crossed the line into criminality'

US President Donald Trump steps from Air Force One in Groton, Connecticut
Reuters
US President Donald Trump steps from Air Force One in Groton, Connecticut

President Trump’s conduct in and around the firing of the FBI Director James Comey "may have crossed the line into criminality", an opinion piece in The New York Times says.

"The combination of what is known and what is credibly alleged would, if fully substantiated, constitute obstruction of justice," Richard W Painter and Norman L Eisen write.

"It is time for Congress and a special counsel in the executive branch to conduct objective, bipartisan inquiries into these allegations, together with the underlying matters involving Michael Flynn and Russia that gave rise to them."

The authors have both previously served as chief White House ethics lawyers.

Manchin: 'The FBI won't allow this'

West Virginia senator Joe Manchin says "the professionals in the FBI are truly professional that are not going to allow this".

The Democrat adds that they have been "demoralised" by President Trump's accusations against James Comey, their old boss.

Senator Manchin on what needs to happen next in the FBI

Breaking video

A key line from that Donald Trump speech

Trump on first trip abroad

"As you leave this academy to embark on an exciting new voyage, I am heading on a very crucial journey as well.

"In a few days I will make my first trip abroad as president."

"I will strengthen old friendships, and seek new partners. But partners who also help us, not partners who take and take and take, partners who help.

"And partners who help pay for whatever we are doing and all the good we are doing for them."

Trump lashes out at media

"The people understand what I'm doing and that's the most important thing," says Trump.

"I didn't get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests.

"I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country and that's what I'm doing."

Trump touting agenda

"I've loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country," the president says.

He also says that illegal border crossings from Mexico are down, and preparations for the border wall are "going very, very well".

"We're working on major tax cuts," he adds.

Trump: 'Look at the way I've been treated'

"Things happen to you that you do not deserve and are not always warranted, but you put your head down and fight, fight, fight.

"Things will work out just fine.

"Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history - and I say this with great surety - has been treated worse or more unfairly.

"You can't let the critics and they naysayers get in the way of your dreams. Adversity makes you stronger," he says.

US President Donald Trump at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut
AFP
US President Donald Trump at the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut

Trump speaking to coast guard cadets

"What poison-peddling drug runner, the scourge of our country, doesn't tremble with fear when the might of the US Coast Guard comes bearing down on them?" the president asks.

"America's life saving service is on the way... The coastguard is truly vital to our great country."

He continues: "We need them, we need them."

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WSJ: Russian state-run bank 'financed deal involving Trump hotel partner'

The Wall Street Journal report
Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal report

A Russian state-run bank under investigation in the US "financed a deal involving Donald Trump's onetime partner in a Toronto hotel tower at a key moment for the project", The Wall Street Journal reports.

The paper says that Russian-Canadian developer Alexander Shnaider - who built the 65-storey Trump International Hotel and Tower - put money into the project after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from a separate asset sale - relating to a Ukrainian steelmaker - that involved the Russian VEB bank.

US investigators are examining possible links between Russian financial institutions and Mr Trump, "a person familiar with the probe" is quoted as telling the newspaper.

"As part of the investigation, they're examining interactions between Mr Trump, his associates and VEB, which is now subject to US sanctions", another person "familiar with the matter" is quoted as saying.

"The Toronto deal adds a new element to the list of known connections between Mr Trump's associates and Russia," the paper says.

Trump begins remarks

Trump
Pool

"Thank you and congratulations to the class of 2017. Great job," says the president.

He also thanks his secretary of homeland security for "an incredible great job... protecting our border".

He says speaking to the Coast Guard is "a great honour".

We are LIVE streaming Trump speech on Facebook

'Tell the truth' - Homeland Security chief's advice

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had this advice for graduating Coast Guard cadets:

"Tell the truth. Tell the truth to your seniors, even if its uncomfortable. Even if they may not want to hear it. They deserve that," Secretary Kelly says with President Trump sitting behind him.

Donald Jr. defends his father

The man himself hasn't tweeted in more than 20 hours, but one of his sons has been defending him online.

Donald Trump Jr. endorsed a tweet saying that the president "hoping" James Comey "cuts @MikeFlynn some slack because he is a 'good man' is not close to #Obstruction".

But he was then asked if he was, in effect, confirming that Trump had made some sort of request.

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Standing by for Trump

Trump is seen seated behind the presidential auto-cue
Pool
Trump is seen seated behind the presidential auto-cue

Coast Guard administrators praise international cadets who will return to their home countries after receiving a US military education.

The cadets come from Honduras, Georgia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands.

Trump is seated on stage beside Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, watching the graduation.

The president is due to speak shortly.

Are people overreacting?

A thought from the BBC's North America Bureau Editor...

Trump takes to the stage

Trump is due to address graduating cadets at the US Coast Guard academy in Connecticut in the next few moments.

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