Comey Testifies

Comey Testifies

Live coverage of James Comey's testimony before the U.S. Senate on June 8, 2017. Provided by Minnesota Public Radio.

    Comey accuses White House of 'Lies, plain and simple'

    Former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday morning that he was "confused" and "increasingly concerned" about the "shifting explanations" President Trump gave for his firing just over a month ago.

    When Trump fired him, he initially pointed to Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but then later conceded it was because of his handling of the Russia investigation and claimed Comey was overseeing a demoralized FBI in disarray.

    "So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation and learned again from the media that he was telling, privately, other parties that my firing had relieved 'great pressure' on the Russia investigation," Comey said, referring to reporting on Trump's conversation with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after the dismissal.

    "The administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI" Comey said, by claiming the agency was "poorly led."

    "Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey bluntly told the committee.

    He later said one of the reasons he began memorializing all of his conversations with Trump — which he had not done with President Obama — was because he "was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting."

    "I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not just to defend myself" but also the FBI, Comey added.

    "My impression is something big is about to happen. I need to remember every word that is spoken," he said of the memos he wrote.

    Comey's opening comments follow the release by the committee of his written testimony on Wednesday, which ticked off in rich detail the extent to which President Trump pressed him about the Russia investigation. Comey wrote that Trump did ask him for a "loyalty" pledge during a one-on-one dinner and later asked him to scuttle the agency's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    The president has denied both those accusations. But Comey's testimony so far has only confirmed the many bombshell reports over the past few weeks about the private conversations he had with Trump, many of them unprecedented and possibly inappropriate.

    Comey told the committee he did see Trump's request for loyalty from him — an independent arbiter atop the FBI — as a sort of quid pro quo.

    "My common sense told me what's going on here is he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job," Comey said.

    He also said that in a now-infamous photo just days after Trump's inauguration in which the president shook his hand and embraced him, Trump whispered in his ear, "'I really look forward to working with you.'"

    On Trump's February 14 private conversation with Comey in the Oval Office — the day after Flynn was asked to resign for misleading Vice President Pence over his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition — Comey said that he believed the president was indeed directing him to scuttle the investigation into Flynn.

    "I took it as a direction," which he didn't follow, Comey said. "I took it as, this is what he wants me to do." Comey also added that, at that time, Flynn was indeed in "legal jeopardy" over his ties and contacts with the Russians.

    He noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions tried to linger in on that meeting, and he said that it was his "sense" that Sessions "knew he shouldn't be leaving." According to Comey's written testimony, he later told Sessions he didn't want to be left alone with Trump again. Comey said during questioning that he was "stunned" by that conversation and the president asking everyone else to leave and later said it was a "significant fact" to him as a prosecutor that Trump wanted to speak with him alone.

    Comey did testify that he didn't believe Trump was asking Comey to stop the broader Russia investigation being conducted by the Bureau, but that while his conversation with him was "disturbing," he didn't "think it's for me to say that the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct."

    Later asked by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., whether Trump's interactions with him over Flynn rose to the level of obstruction of Justice, Comey responded that was newly-appointed special counsel Robert Muller's "job to sort that out."

    Comey said he had indeed seen Trump's tweet last month suggesting that the president had "tapes" of their conversations — and that if those did exist, they would corroborate his testimony.

    "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," he told senators.

    And, Comey revealed, it was Trump's tweet about those alleged "tapes" that prompted him to call up a friend to leak the memos about his conversations with the president to the press last month in hopes it would lead to the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.

    Republicans have already seized on one section of Comey's written testimony as vindication. The former FBI director does detail in his written submission to the committee how he did tell Trump on three separate occasions that he was not himself under investigation — a surprising assertion Trump put in his termination letter to Comey.

    Comey told the committee that deliberations with senior FBI leadership about whether or not to tell the president he was not personally under investigation beginning in January, before he was inaugurated, was not unanimous.

    "One of the members of the leadership team had a view that although it was technically true, we did not have a counter-intelligence file case open on then-President-elect Trump, his concern was that because we're looking at the potential — again that's the subject of the investigation — coordination between the campaign and Russia, because it was President Trump — President-elect Trump's campaign, this person's view was inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work. And so he was reluctant to make the statement that I made. I disagreed," Comey said. "I thought it was fair to say what was literally true — there is not a counter-intelligence investigation of Mr. Trump — and I decided in the moment to say it given the nature of our conversation."

    He later confirmed that when he was let go on May 9, there was no counter-intelligence, nor criminal investigation, of Trump individually, and that the president was not personally under investigation.

    Asked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as to whether or not he believed Trump colluded with Russia during the campaign, Comey responded, "I don't think I should answer in an open setting."

    Comey was also pressed by Republicans on the committee, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, why he didn't alert White House officials or the White House Counsel's Office about what he believed were inappropriate conversations with Trump and a breach of protocol.

    "I don't know," Comey responded to Rubio. "I think the circumstances were such that I was a bit stunned and didn't have the presence of mind."

    Republicans also pressed Comey on how he handled the investigation into Clinton's emails during the 2016 campaign, usurping then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch by announcing the FBI was not recommending prosecution for handling of classified information on Clinton's private server.

    Comey testified he was disturbed by Lynch's tarmac meeting with Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, and that was one reason he made his announcement in July, though he did say at that time he believed Hillary Clinton had been careless with classified information.

    "I didn't believe she could credibly decline that investigation, at least not without grievous damage to the Department of Justice and the FBI," Comey said of Obama's attorney general.

    Comey said it made him uncomfortable that Lynch had directed him to refer to the Clinton email investigation as a "matter" and not an investigation, even though she was, indeed, under criminal investigation.

    Pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as to why he didn't call for an independent counsel to handle that matter, Comey said that he "knew there was no case there" and that "calling for a special counsel would be brutally unfair."

    It's unclear how the White House will respond to Comey's testimony, but it could come from the president himself in tweets or remarks Thursday.

    Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan defended Trump at his weekly press conference, arguing that one reason the president had unusual conversations with Comey was because he was a novice president learning the ropes.

    "Of course there needs to be a degree of independence between DOJ, FBI and the White House and a line of communications established. The president is new at this. He's new to government. So he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses," Ryan said. "He's just new to this."

    Ryan was pushed by a reporter who asked how being new is an acceptable excuse when he has staff and legal counsel.

    "I'm not saying it's an acceptable excuse, it's just my observation," the House speaker replied.

    "I think people now realize why the president is so frustrated," Ryan also added. "When the FBI director tells him on three different occasions he's not under investigation yet the speculation swirls around the political system that he is, that's frustrating. Of course the president is frustrated, and I think the American people now know why he was so frustrated."

    -- Jessica Taylor, NPR

    White House: Trump won't seek to block Comey testimony

    The Associated Press · Jun 5, 2017
    James Comey
    FBI Director James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on the FBI on Capitol Hill May 3, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Zach Gibson | Getty Images File

    President Donald Trump will not assert executive privilege to block fired FBI Director James Comey from testifying on Capitol Hill, the White House said Monday, setting the stage for a dramatic public airing of the former top law enforcement official's dealings with the commander in chief.

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president's power to invoke executive privilege is "well-established." But she said Trump wanted to allow for a "swift and thorough examination of the facts" related to Comey's ouster and the multiple investigations into his campaign's possible ties to Russia.

    • More: Why the Russia investigation matters and why you should care

    Comey is scheduled to testify Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee. His appearance will mark his first public comments since he was abruptly fired by the president last month.

    White House officials had weighed trying to block Comey by arguing that his discussions with the president pertained to national security and that there was an expectation of privacy. However, officials ultimately concluded that the optics of taking that step would be worse than the risk of letting the former FBI director testify freely.

    Legal experts have also said that the president likely undermined his ability to assert executive privilege by publicly discussing his dealings with Comey in tweets and interviews.

    Lawmakers in both parties have urged Trump to allow Comey to testify publicly. On Sunday, Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and a member of the intelligence committee, said the president would be "better served by getting all this information out."

    "Sooner rather than later, let's find out what happened and bring this to a conclusion," Blunt said on "Fox News Sunday." ''You don't do that I think by invoking executive privilege on a conversation you had apparently with nobody else in the room."

    Comey associates have alleged that Trump asked the FBI director if he could drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his Russian contacts. The White House has denied the president made that request.

    White House looks for ways to undermine Comey's credibility

    Comey's testimony Thursday before the Senate intelligence committee could expose new details regarding his discussions with Trump about the federal investigation into Russia's election meddling.

    Things to know about ex-FBI head's James Comey's testimony

    WASHINGTON — Assurances to an incoming president that he was not under federal investigation. A president's unprecedented request for loyalty from an FBI director. A "very concerning" request from the president to end an investigation into a devoted presidential appointee. Lawmakers hungry for answers and frustrated by the reticence of national security executives to provide them.

    It's been a month of extraordinary drama since President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, rife with leaked details of private memos detailing awkward interactions with the president and the rare appointment of a special counsel to alleviate concerns of White House interference in an ongoing investigation.

    A day before Comey's much-anticipated testimony before the Senate intelligence committee, the former FBI director's prepared remarks were officially released, bringing into public view new details in the Trump-Comey saga.

    Here's how we got to this point, and here are some things to expect from the most anticipated congressional hearing in recent memory:

    The backstory

    The testimony, Comey's first public comments since his May 9 firing, unfolds against the extraordinary backdrop of an FBI investigation that has shadowed the Trump White House from the outset and threatens to cripple its agenda.

    At the time he was fired, Comey had been overseeing the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign for months.

    The White House's stated reasons for firing Comey were contradicted by the president himself, raising questions about whether Trump had fired Comey to derail the Russia investigation.

    The White House initially said Trump was acting on the recommendation of Justice Department leaders, citing as justification a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that lambasted Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation. But Trump gave a different explanation when he said in an NBC News interview that he had already decided to dismiss Comey and was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he did so.

    Trump's actions and justifications presented the possibility that Trump's intention was to obstruct justice.

    Comey's testimony

    Comey, a skilled raconteur who generally tilts in favor of openness, is well-accustomed to the spotlight and in particular to sensational congressional hearings, including one 10 years ago in which he revealed a dramatic hospital room clash with Bush administration officials.

    Thursday's testimony before the Senate intelligence committee is expected to be his most dramatic yet.

    The official release of Comey's remarks on Wednesday afternoon came shortly after the conclusion of testimony from Comey's former national security peers who refused to answer senators' questions about their own interactions with Trump. There have been reports that the president tried to pressure NSA Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to publicly push back on the investigation.

    The former director's prepared remarks answered many of the looming questions:
    • Did the president ask Comey for his loyalty? Yes. "I didn't move, speak or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed," Comey said in his written testimony.
    • Did the president ask Comey to stop investigating his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn? Yes. "I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December," Comey said.
    • How often did Trump and Comey communicate with each other before he was fired? Nine times, Comey said. "Three in person and six on the phone."
    • After one of these encounters, did Comey actually tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he did not want to meet with the president alone again? Yes. "I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me," Comey said.
    But Republicans are likely to press Comey on why he did not raise his concerns about Trump publicly or resign. Some may attempt to divert attention from Comey's remarks about Trump by focusing on two issues they've repeatedly seized on: leaks and revealing the names of Americans in intelligence reports.

    Any limits?

    The White House said Monday it would not invoke executive privilege over Comey's upcoming testimony — officials predicted it would look bad otherwise.

    Comey, who is used to not answering lawmakers' questions about ongoing investigations, is not likely to say anything Thursday that could interfere with, or undercut, the ongoing federal investigation into Russia ties. That investigation is being led by Robert Mueller, Comey's predecessor.

    Mueller was appointed as a special counsel by the department last month. The two former FBI directors are known to have warm feelings and respect for each other. A Comey associate has said he obtained Mueller's permission to testify.

    On Tuesday, Trump was asked what his message for Comey would be. He said, "I wish him luck."

    -- The Associated Press

    Comey's testimony to put uncomfortable spotlight on Trump

    WASHINGTON — In a hugely anticipated hearing, fired FBI director James Comey will recount a series of conversations with President Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.

    The testimony, Comey's first public statements since his May 9 dismissal, is likely to bring hours of uncomfortable attention to an administration shadowed for months by an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    His account of demands for loyalty from the president, and of requests to end an investigation into an embattled adviser, are likely to sharpen allegations that Trump improperly sought to influence the FBI-led probe.

    Comey's detailed and vivid recollections of his one-on-one conversations with Trump were revealed in seven pages of prepared testimony released Wednesday, the day before his appearance before the Senate intelligence committee.

    He'll will testify under oath that Trump repeatedly pressed him for his "loyalty" and directly pushed him to "lift the cloud" of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign's Russia ties.

    His remarks paint a picture of an FBI director so disconcerted by his interactions with the president that he began keeping written memos of their private discussions, including one he hastened to type out in an FBI vehicle immediately after a Trump Tower meeting.

    He'll tell lawmakers he believed the president was trying to create a "patronage relationship" with him and describe in detail an Oval Office meeting in which Trump urged him not to investigate ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials.

    But the ex-FBI director also will validate Trump's assertion that he was not personally a target of the federal counterintelligence investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia. Comey says he did offer the president that "assurance," but resisted Trump's appeals to make that information public.

    "The FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change," Comey says in the prepared remarks.

    Trump's personal lawyer said Trump was cheered by the testimony.

    "The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the president was not under investigation in any Russian probe," attorney Mark Kasowitz said in a statement. "The president feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda."

    Comey has not spoken publicly since he was abruptly fired by Trump on May 9. His dismissal, four years into a 10-year term, fueled claims Trump's ultimate aim was to quash the investigation and obstruct justice, potentially a federal crime or an impeachable offense.
    Some legal experts said Comey's account could bolster such a case.

    Ryan Goodman, a professor at New York University School of Law, said Trump's efforts to protect Flynn provide "strong evidence" of obstruction of justice. However, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that while Trump's dealings with Comey were inappropriate, "We do not indict people for being boorish or clueless."

    The ex-FBI director's testimony recounts his conversations with the apparent precision of a veteran lawman. Comey notes he had nine one-on-one interactions with Trump over a four-month stretch, compared to two private conversations with President Barack Obama between September 2013 and the end of 2016. He also says he did not keep written memos of his interactions with Obama.

    The first meeting with Trump after the inauguration occurred on Jan. 27, during a private dinner at the White House that Comey came to view as an attempt by the president to "create some sort of patronage relationship."

    According to Comey, Trump asked if he wanted to remain as FBI director and declared: "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty." Comey says he replied that he could offer his honesty, and that when Trump said he wanted "honest loyalty," Comey paused and said, "You will get that from me."

    Comey also describes at length a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which he believed Trump asked him to back off an investigation into Flynn.

    "He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,'" Comey says, according to the prepared remarks. He said he believed the president was talking only about Flynn, not about the broader Russia probe.

    White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was unsure if the president read Comey's testimony after its release. Asked whether the president stood by earlier assertions that he had neither sought Comey's loyalty nor asked for the Flynn investigation to be dropped, she said: "I can't imagine the president not standing by his own statement."

    Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced that he planned to nominate Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official, as Comey's successor.

    Trump allies have raised questions about Comey's credibility ahead of his testimony, noting that the FBI had to correct some of his remarks from his last appearance on Capitol Hill. They've also questioned why Comey did not raise his concerns about Trump publicly or resign.

    Comey's prepared testimony does not full answer that question, though he does say he asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to help prevent him having any direct communication with the president in the future.

    Trump has repeatedly cast the Russia investigation as a "hoax" and denied having any improper ties to Moscow. According to Comey, Trump was acutely aware of the political toll of the investigation, complaining that the probe had left a "cloud" that was "impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country."

    In a phone call on March 30, Comey says the president asked him what could be done to "lift the cloud." He says Trump also volunteered that "he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia" — referencing an unverified intelligence dossier detailing compromising information Moscow had allegedly collected on Trump.

    The White House initially said Trump fired Comey on the recommendation of the Justice Department, citing as justification a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that criticized Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Trump later said he was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he fired Comey and would have dismissed him without the Justice Department's input.
    -- The Associated Press

    Ex-FBI Boss Comey Heads To The Senate: Can It Live Up To The Hype?

    James Comey is expected to tell Congress that, yes, he did tell Trump he wasn't under investigation — but that Trump asked him to back off Mike Flynn.

    What you need to know about Comey's testimony

    Cody Nelson, MPR News

    • Comey's prepared opening remarks for his testimony are already out. According to the testimony, Trump told Comey, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty," during a dinner in January.  Read the whole statement here on Document Cloud.

    • Preparing for any potential damage from Comey's testimony, the White House is looking for ways to undermine his credibility. For his part, President Trump said of Comey, "I wish him luck."

    • In the days before Comey was fired, he asked for more resources for his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And this week, there's been a string of leaks relating to the Russia probe. It's a lot to take in, but Vox has compiled a nice list of the latest.

    • Trump could've used executive privilege to block Comey from testifying, but he did not. Through a spokeswoman, Trump said he wants a "swift and thorough examination of the facts."

    • And since Russia is so focal to this whole thing, here's an explanation of why the election-meddling investigation matters and why you should care.

    Trump lawyer to watch Comey from White House

    President Donald Trump's outside counsel Marc Kasowitz will be at the White House Thursday to monitor fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Congress.

    The president is expected to watch some of Comey's remarks to lawmakers. His public schedule is largely clear until the afternoon.

    Kasowitz is a longtime Trump lawyer. He was recently tapped to handle all inquiries related to the investigations into possible ties between Trump's campaign and Russia — a move intended to distance the White House from the FBI and congressional probes.

    — The Associated Press

    Trump to dispute key parts of Comey testimony

    President Donald Trump will dispute key parts of former FBI Director James Comey's testimony.

    That's according to a person close to the president's legal team.

    The person says the president disputes Comey's claim that he asked him for loyalty. Trump also disputes Comey's account of a conversation about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.

    The person demanded anonymity because the person is not authorized to be named in a discussion about legal strategy.

    — The Associated Press

    Comey says White House 'defamed' him and FBI

    James Comey says President Donald Trump's administration spread "lies, plain and simple" and "defamed" him and the FBI.

    The former FBI director opened his Senate testimony Thursday by stating that the administration's explanations for his firing confused and concerned him. He didn't say what the lies were.

    The ousted FBI director says at the start of his high-profile Senate hearing that President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job. Comey says he told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.

    Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

    — The Associated Press

    Comey says he worried Trump would 'lie'

    Former FBI Director James Comey says he was concerned Donald Trump would "lie" about the nature of his first conversation with him.

    Comey says Trump's behavior was new to him and led him to think, "I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way."

    During the meeting, Trump asked if he personally was under investigation. Comey says he told him he was not at that time.

    Trump fired Comey in May. At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into Russia's election meddling and ties with the Trump campaign.

    — The Associated Press

    Comey says Trump was 'looking to get something'

    Former FBI director James Comey says he thought during a January dinner with President Donald Trump that the president was "looking to get something" in exchange for allowing him to stay on as FBI director.

    Comey is describing his views that the president was trying to create a type of "patronage relationship" at the start of the Trump administration.

    The ousted FBI head is testifying that the president told him before the dinner he hoped he would stay as director.

    Comey says law enforcement leaders aren't "supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is pleased or not with what you're doing."

    — The Associated Press

    Comey 'took as a direction' Trump's remarks

    Former FBI director James Comey says he took "as a direction" President Donald Trump's remark that he hoped Comey would drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho asked if Comey was aware of anyone being charged with obstruction of justice because they expressed hope for a certain outcome. Comey says he wasn't.

    But Comey added at his Senate hearing: "I took it as a direction," and noted that the remark came during a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States.

    — The Associated Press

    President's son attacks Comey on Twitter

    President Donald Trump has so far stayed off Twitter during former FBI Director James Comey's testimony. But his eldest son hasn't.

    Donald Trump Jr. is posting repeatedly during the closely watched testimony Thursday.

    He repeatedly defended his father and attacked Comey.

    Trump Jr. in particular seized on Comey's assertion that he interpreted the president's statement that he "hoped" the FBI would drop its probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    Trump Jr. tweeted "you would think a guy like Comey" would know the difference between "hoping and telling."

    He also cast doubt on all of Comey's testimony and said he should "have actually followed procedure."



    Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are now at the helm of their father's New York-based business.

    — The Associated Press

    Comey says "Lordy, I hope there are tapes"

    Fired FBI Director James Comey says, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," of his conversations with President Donald Trump.

    Three days after Trump fired Comey, the president tweeted that Comey should hope there are "no tapes" of their conversations.

    Comey documented his conversations with Trump in memos after the encounters. During his first public appearance since he was fired, senators asked Comey about his responses to Trump.

    Comey says he chose his words carefully when responding to Trump because he was "so stunned" by the conversation. Comey was recalling a February conversation in which, Comey says, Trump said he hoped Comey could let go the FBI's investigation into Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn's calls with the Russians.

    — Associated Press

    Comey says he avoided public remarks on Trump

    Former FBI Director James Comey says he didn't announce that President Donald Trump was not personally under investigation because "it creates a duty to correct, which I've lived before."

    That's a reference to the investigation into Hillary Clinton emails when Comey said late in the 2016 presidential campaign that the FBI was further investigating the case.

    Comey is explaining in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony why he was reluctant to announce that Trump was not under investigation.

    He says he wrestled with the decision but said he didn't want to say it publicly because it would create a "duty to correct, which I've lived before and you have to be really careful doing that."

    — The Associated Press

    Comey knew of reasons for Sessions recusal

    Ousted FBI Director James Comey says he knew of a "variety of reasons" why Attorney General Jeff Sessions' involvement in the Russia investigation would be problematic before Sessions recused himself in March.

    But Comey said during his Senate testimony the reasons are such "that I can't discuss in an open setting."

    He said career officials in the Justice Department had been urging Sessions to step aside from the probe. Sessions did so in March, after it was revealed that he twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Sessions failed to disclose those contacts when pressed by Congress during his confirmation hearing.

    Comey said he doesn't know if Comey thought Sessions had adhered to that recusal. He added that that depends on the real reason for Comey's firing, which Sessions had recommended.

    — The Associated Press

    Comey wanted leak of memo, special counsel

    Former FBI Director James Comey says he asked a friend to leak the contents of his memo about meetings with President Donald Trump.

    Comey says in his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he felt that releasing the details of his private conversations with the president might prompt the appointment of a special counsel in the case.

    The ousted FBI head says he made the decision after Trump tweeted that Comey should hope there aren't any tapes.

    Comey says the contents of the memo were released to a reporter by a close friend of his who is a professor at Columbia law school.

    — The Associated Press

    Trump lawyer to speak after Comey hearing

    President Donald Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz plans to make a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.

    Kasowitz's remarks are expected Thursday afternoon in downtown Washington.

    Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.

    This would be the first public appearance by Kasowitz.

    — The Associated Press

    Comey says if any, "release all the tapes"

    Ousted FBI Director James Comey says if President Donald Trump recorded their conversations, he hopes the president will "release all the tapes."

    Comey is being asked about the possibility that Trump may have recorded their conversations. The president alluded to that possibility in a tweet after he fired Comey in May.

    Comey says in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony that he hopes there are tapes, adding the president should "release all the tapes." He says he's "good with it."

    — Associated Press

    Comey opening statement for Senate intelligence hearing, annotated

    Ex-FBI Director James Comey is testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, his first public comments since his firing on May 9. Here are his prepared opening remarks.

    White House spokeswoman says Trump "not a liar"

    A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump is "not a liar."

    Former FBI Director James Comey opened his Senate testimony by saying the administration had spread "lies, plain and simple" and "defamed" him and the agency.

    The White House had claimed after Comey's May 9 dismissal that he had lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI agents.

    Trump claimed separately in a television interview that the FBI was "in turmoil" and hadn't recovered.

    Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed Comey's testimony when asked about it during an off-camera briefing at the White House, saying "I can definitely say the president's not a liar."

    — The Associated Press

    Patrons at Ace's Bar watch a television broadcast of former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8, 2017 in San Francisco, United States. People across the country are flocking to bars and restaurants to watch former FBI director as he testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his conversations with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

    White House says Trump confident in Sessions

    A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions — after days of refusing to answer the questions.

    Sarah Sanders tells reporters the president "absolutely" has confidence in Sessions and the rest of his Cabinet.

    Press secretary Sean Spicer had said earlier this week that he wasn't sure about the president's opinion on Sessions because he hadn't discussed the topic with him.

    Trump has been angry with Sessions ever since he recused himself from the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible connections with the Trump campaign.

    — The Associated Press

    Trump vows to survive and thrive "siege"

    President Donald Trump says he and his supporters "are under siege" but "will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever."

    Trump spoke Friday at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference at the same time as former FBI Director James Comey's was testifying before Congress.

    The president did not make specific reference to Comey, who says Trump tried to get him to pledge loyalty and drop an investigation into potential collusion with Russia by his campaign aides.

    But in the first moments of Trump's his speech he said "as you know, we're under siege" and then vowed to survive and thrive.

    — The Associated Press

    The James Comey saga, in timeline form

    A year and a half ago, James Comey, then the head of the FBI, said "part of doing our work well is to make sure we don't talk about it." Today he testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    Senate committee says more work ahead in probe

    The chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee says there's more work ahead in the committee's investigation after hearing testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.

    Sen. Richard Burr says the committee plans to get together next week with the special counsel who's leading an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Burr says the aim is to work on ways to avoid logistical conflicts with upcoming witnesses and testimony.

    — The Associated Press

    Trump lawyer denies president demanded loyalty

    President Donald Trump's personal attorney says the president "never, in form or substance" directed former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating anyone. That includes former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

    Marc Kasowitz is responding to Comey's Thursday morning testimony, in which the fired FBI director said Trump urged him to drop the Flynn case.

    Kasowitz says that the president is "entitled to expect loyalty" from those serving the administration. But he says Trump never told Comey, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," in form or substance, as Comey claimed.

    Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.

    — The Associated Press

    Trump's lawyer fires back after Comey testimony, denies asking for loyalty pledge

    President Trump maintained Twitter silence during the Comey hearing and he didn't mention Comey during a speech before a religious group. But his attorney and his eldest son teamed up to defend him.

    Franken reacts to Comey's testimony

    Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken has released the following statement on Comey's testimony:
    “The more we learn about President Donald Trump and his team’s connections to Russia, the more we have to be concerned about. 
    “U.S. intelligence agencies have already confirmed that Russia interfered with the most fundamental aspect of our democracy—our electoral process—in support of Donald Trump, and that several members of the Trump team, including some who are now major players in the Trump administration, had suspicious contacts with the Russians. 
    “It’s clear that President Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey because of the Trump-Russia investigation. And today’s explosive testimony by former Director Comey before the Senate Intelligence Committee makes the case even stronger that the President has continuously tried to undermine that investigation. 
    “Now more than ever we should be encouraged that there’s a special prosecutor in place to get to the bottom of what happened between Trump’s team and the Russians. President Trump wants the American people and Congress to let this thing go. That’s not an option when the integrity of our democracy is at stake.”

    Congressman Walz on Comey

    Here's the testimony reaction from Democratic Rep. Tim Walz:
    “Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony today raises serious questions and concerns about the President’s actions and what appears to be his attempt to personally influence the investigation into the Russian attack on our 2016 election. I am deeply alarmed that President Trump seems to be more concerned about clearing his own name than on preventing future attacks on our democracy. Russia's attack on our electoral process isn't a political or partisan issue. It's an American issue. The American people need and deserve the whole truth. We need to establish an independent commission immediately.”

    Ellison: 'This is obstruction of justice'

    Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison released this statement reacting to Comey's testimony:
    “Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony today revealed several things: First, that President Trump demanded Comey’s loyalty and tried to get him to beg for his job. Second, that President Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn in order to cover up his campaign’s collusion with Russia. And third, that the President, his campaign, and the Administration repeatedly lied to the American people. 
    “This is obstruction of justice. 
    “Republicans must now stop tying themselves in knots to defend the President. If Donald Trump was the Mayor of a small town in rural America who asked the police chief to stop investigating a friend of his who was suspected of drunk driving, we probably wouldn’t be having a discussion about whether or not that Mayor was corrupt. Especially if the Mayor fired the police chief afterwards for refusing to drop the investigation. It’s time for Republicans to put country before party.”
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