Republicans Watch Their Step in a Slow Retreat From Trump

Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he hoped the report was not true, adding that Mr. Trump should have instead expressed any frustration over Russian meddling to that country’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov.

“You would like, I would think, the president to kind of beat him over the head with the fact that, if they actually did interfere in any way, shape or form, how wrong that is and how outraged America is on both sides of the aisle,” Mr. Chaffetz said on ABC’s “This Week.”

While calling such disclosures to reporters “disgraceful,” Senator John McCain of Arizona said he was at a loss for how to explain Mr. Trump’s remarks.

“I don’t know how to read it, except that I’m almost speechless because I don’t know why someone would say something like that,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Lawmakers have been grappling with a flood of revelations about Mr. Trump’s behavior regarding the Russia investigation, including a report by The Times that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to stop the bureau’s investigation of Michael T. Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, whose ties to Russia and Turkey are under scrutiny.

After the White House initially said that Mr. Trump had fired Mr. Comey on the recommendation of senior Justice Department officials, who cited his handling of the case into Hillary Clinton’s email server, Mr. Trump later contradicted that justification by saying that the Russia investigation had factored into his decision.

Mr. Trump’s remarks in the Oval Office on May 10 to Mr. Lavrov and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States — the day after Mr. Comey’s dismissal — may become central to the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to influence the Russia…

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