* Okay, if you say so, Mr. President:

President Trump on Thursday denied ever asking FBI Director James B. Comey to back off his agency’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the role played by former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Asked whether he urged Comey to ease up on the Flynn investigation, Trump said at a news conference, “No, no,” before ordering the media to move on to the “next question.”

Good thing Comey is set to testify in an open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We’ll get to hear his side of the story. Remember, the basis for the report that Trump urged Comey to squash the Flynn probe was a detailed memo recounting the episode that was authored by Comey and read to reporters by his one of his associates. — gs

* Sari Horwitz and Ed O’Keefe report on what Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the members of the Senate when he briefed them this afternoon:

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein told the full Senate he knew that former Director James B. Comey would be fired before he wrote his controversial memo that the White House initially used as justification for President Trump firing the FBI director.

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said that Rosenstein told the senators that he knew on Monday, the day before Comey was fired, that Trump was going to fire him. He also told them that he was not pressured into writing his memo.

“He learned the president’s decision to fire him and then he wrote his memo with his rationale,” Durbin said.

Just to be clear, this means that the first line that came out of the White House, that Trump only fired Comey because that was Rosenstein’s recommendation, was a lie.

* Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng, Kimberly Dozier, and Jana Winter report that President Trump has some insane ideas about his friend Michael Flynn:

President Donald Trump pressured a “reluctant” Michael Flynn into accepting a job as the White House’s top national security official even after Flynn warned the president that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, The Daily Beast has learned…

But Trump doesn’t just hope that Flynn will beat the rap. Several sources close to Flynn and to the administration tell The Daily Beast that Trump has expressed his hopes that a resolution of the FBI’s investigation in Flynn’s favor might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity — a scenario some of Trump’s closest advisers in and outside the West Wing have assured him absolutely should not happen.

Those sources said Trump didn’t believe Flynn should be under investigation in the first place.

That’s like the CEO of Subway saying, “When this whole thing blows over, we should bring Jared back as our spokesperson.”

* Maggie Haberman reports that a number of advisers and friends of the president have told him that he ought to get himself a good lawyer.

* Noam Levey reports that insurers around the country report that the Trump administration is essentially destroying the health care exchanges through a combination of ignorance, mismanagement, and intentional sabotage.

* Marc Fisher has an obituary for former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who changed the face of television and American politics, and who was also a horrible human being.

* Erik Wemple explains why Ailes’s legacy will live on in all its rancid glory.

* Brian Beutler shows how Republican members of Congress have through their own actions become as implicated in the Russia scandal as Trump himself.

* David Frum explains why the special counsel should investigate Trump’s debts, because there may well be some fishy goings-on there.

* Michael Sparer suggests that if Republicans want to repeal Obamacare, they should eliminate the law’s exchanges and let the people who currently use them buy into Medicaid.

* At The Week, I got a jump on the news by considering what the Pence presidency will be like.

* And President Trump is considering scaling back Sean Spicer’s public role, which would be a real shame.