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"What's the difference between the FBI director and Mr. Snowden?" Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Thursday during his yearly live call-in show, saying that he would offer political asylum to fired FBI head James Comey in the same way Russia has sheltered former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Updated at 9:55 a.m. ET on June 15

President Trump dismissed a potential obstruction of justice investigation into his conduct, calling allegations of collusion between him, his campaign or people associated with him and Russia a "phony story."

Of course, it's possible to obstruct justice without colluding.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he wants flexibility as he tries to improve ties with Russia. U.S. lawmakers, however, are going in another direction.

The Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill to impose new sanctions on Russia and to make sure the Trump administration doesn't change course without congressional buy-in.

Updated at 5:37 p.m. ET

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a Senate committee Tuesday that any suggestion he colluded with Russia during last year's U.S. presidential campaign was an "appalling and detestable lie."

Sessions spent more than 2 1/2 hours before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which included several testy exchanges with Democratic senators who accused him of obstructing their investigation.

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, it will be in a hearing that is open to the public. A Justice Department spokeswoman tells NPR that Sessions requested it be public.

The hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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