A day after President Donald Trump's stunning dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, protesters gathered in Washington, Chicago and other cities to urge an independent investigation of alleged collusion between Russian Federation and Trump's presidential campaign.
But Trump, in an interview aired by NBC on May 11, restated his earlier comments that Comey had assured him three times that he was not under investigation. Mr Trump officially chose to dismiss Mr Comey based on comments from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, according to documents released by the White House.
He'd been thinking about it for months, which I did say yesterday and have said many times since.
The White House appeared caught off guard by the intense response to Mr Comey's firing, given that the FBI director had become a pariah among Democrats for his role in the Clinton investigation.
"Nothing less is at stake than the American people's faith in our criminal justice system and the integrity of the executive branch of our government", said Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, who argued that the failure of the Justice Department to name a prosecutor would show that Trump's decision was "part of a coverup".
"It was all him", Spicer said, referring to Rosenstein.
"I still don't have any love for Comey", said Cody Davis, 29, among a small group of protesters near Chicago's 96-story Trump International Hotel and Tower.
Many questions remained about what caused Trump to move so quickly.
"In fact when I made a decision to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won", he said.
Like other Clinton supporters, Cheri Zettel found the timing of Comey's firing suspicious because of the Russian Federation probe.
"We should maybe have an impeachment clock", Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said.
The president fired Comey the following day.
Comey, who testified for four hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it made him feel "mildly nauseous" that his decision to make public his reopening of a probe into Clinton's handling of classified information might have affected the outcome of the November 8 presidential election. He added, "As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee's Oversight Subcommittee, I have reached out to the Deputy Attorney General for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action". "Simply put, sir, you can not stop the men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from doing the right thing", he said.
The Trump administration has suggested multiple motives for Comey's termination, including his conduct in the probe into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information past year and an error in his congressional testimony on the probe last week. In defending the decision, officials leaned heavily on a memo from Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, criticizing Comey's handling of the Clinton investigation.
White House officials and others insisted on anonymity in order to disclose private conversations and internal deliberations.
The signatories of the letter are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.