May 15, 2017 / 6:33 PM / 3 months ago

Deputy attorney general to brief full U.S. Senate on Comey firing

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein departs after meeting with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 11, 2017.Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will conduct a classified briefing on Thursday, May 18 for the full U.S. Senate on President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday.

The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said in a statement he hoped senators would use the briefing at 2:30 p.m. EDT (1830 GMT) to seek the "full truth" about Comey's dismissal, press Rosenstein "to make way" for a special prosecutor and ensure the administration preserves and makes public any audio recordings of his conversations with Comey.

Critics have assailed Trump for abruptly firing Comey, who was leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible ties between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Russia denies it sought to interfere in the election. Trump has dismissed such talk as little more than sour grapes by Democrats who cannot accept his upset victory on Nov. 8.

Democrats have been calling for a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate, saying getting to the bottom of foreign interference in the U.S. election is too important to leave to potentially partisan committees in Congress.

Comey's firing last week added to the worries, and even some of Trump's fellow Republicans have expressed concern about the timing of his dismissal.

The top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said she has asked Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan to request a similar briefing for the House.

There was no immediate word from Ryan's office. However, administration officials typically do not conduct such briefings for only one of the two chambers.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by David Gregorio and Jeffrey Benkoe

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