Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington

Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington
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The controversy over President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey is sure to dominate the spotlight in the week ahead.

The president fired Comey on Tuesday night in a decision that shocked Washington and set off a political firestorm.

The White House also struggled in the following days over its explanation for the firing, initially saying that Trump dismissed Comey on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUnder pressure, Trump shifts blame for Russia intrusion Overnight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand MORE and Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein, who cited his handling of the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWoman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Trump: CNN, MSNBC 'got scammed' into covering Russian-organized rally Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map MORE email probe.

But Trump on Thursday said he had made up his mind about firing Comey well before receiving that memo, undercutting claims from his own officials.

And the acting head of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, also contradicted the president in testimony Thursday before the Senate.

McCabe said Comey had been well respected at the nation's top law enforcement bureau, dismissing White House claims that he had lost the confidence of FBI employees.

Trump added to the controversy on Friday, threatening Comey in a cryptic tweet.

"James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Trump tweeted.

Trump has claimed that Comey on three occasions told him he was not the subject of an FBI probe. But Trump's claim has been contradicted by FBI officials.

Trump's tweet sparked a new round of questions, and the White House refused to say if the president had recorded any conversations with Comey.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats are pushing for a special prosecutor to take over the FBI's Russia probe, a move Republicans are resisting.

Comey has been asked by Democrats to testify Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing would be closed-door, but it is still unclear if he will do so.

Rosenstein and McCabe have also been asked separately by the Senate Judiciary Committee to brief that panel about the Russia probe.

Political watchers can also expect more speculation about Comey's successor.

Among the candidates whose names have been mentioned are former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a one-time chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

Outside of the Comey saga, Chelsea Manning, the convicted leaker of hundreds of thousands of United States diplomatic cables and Army files, is set to be released in the week ahead.  

Manning was an Army Specialist in 2010, when she illicitly shared the files with Wikileaks. In January, then President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE reduced Manning's sentence to 7 years.

Also on the cyber front, the spotlight will be on the House, where lawmakers could move on legislation to help the government modernize its information technology.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) has said his IT modernization bill could hit the House floor as early as the coming week. 

The bill would encourage the government to get new technologies that would be cheaper over the long run, more feature rich and easier to secure.

The bill is similar to one that passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate.

It merges two funding channels for updating technology: a general fund agencies can borrow from and repay with cost savings from new equipment, and a rule allowing agencies to keep any money saved from new equipment purchases within their budget.

A companion bill in the Senate is being spearheaded by Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Kan.).

Both chambers' bills have bipartisan support.

Trump's new cybersecurity executive order, signed Thursday could also build momentum for the legislation.


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