Summary: Former FBI Director James Comey testified on Thursday that he believes Donald Trump “lies.”
On Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he made a series of shocking claims, including that he believes the Trump administration “lies” and that he believes he was fired due to the growing Russia investigation.
About one month ago, Comey was fired from his position in which he had worked since 2013. Before his firing, 45th President Donald Trump had praised him publicly during his election campaign, but once in office, the men’s relationship soured.
According to Comey, Trump had asked him to pledge his “loyalty” and to scuttle the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia. Comey said that his distrust for Trump caused him to document their conversations because he “was honestly concerned [Trump] might lie” about what was discussed during their private meetings. He said that he wrote the memos to “defend” himself, and he admitted to leaking a memo to his friend at Columbia University.
“My impression is something big is about to happen. I need to remember every word that is spoken,”Â Comey said.
When Trump had fired Comey from the FBI on May 9, the Trump administration said it was due to Comey’s incompetence in handling the Hillary Clinton private email server investigation. Then Trump changed his story and said that the firing was due to Comey demoralizing the FBI.
During his testimony, Comey said he was “increasingly concerned” about the reasoning given behind his termination and that he felt the White House had defamed him.
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” ComeyÂ said.
In response to Comey’s shocking claims, White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said,Â “I can definitely say the president is not a liar and I think [the question is] frankly insulting.”
Before Thursday’s testimony, Comey released a written statement on Wednesday, where he went into detail about how Trump pressed him to pledge his loyalty. Comey said during a one-on-one dinner that the president had told him to let go of his investigation into General Michael Flynn’s relationship with Russia. Trump has denied these claims.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat, asked Comey if Trump’s interactions with him about Flynn amounted to obstruction of justice, and Comey said that conclusion was for Robert Mueller to “sort out.”
Mueller was appointed as a special counsel to the Russia investigation, which Comey had been in charge of before his abrupt firing. Mueller had previously served as the Director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013.
When asked if Comey had seen Trump’s tweet insinuating that Trump had “tapes” of the two’s conversations, Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Republican, asked Comey if he believed Russia had colluded with Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign and Comey had answered,Â “I don’t think I should answer in an open setting.”
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona also questioned Comey, and his demeanor was slightly tired and rambling. He spent the majority of his time asking Comey about his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and his questioning visibly confused the former FBI director.
While President Trump has yet to tweet his thoughts on Comey’s testimony, Trump’s ally, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has already shown his support.
“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.”
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