Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday about the circumstances regarding his firing, including federal investigations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Comey stated he understood from the beginning of his term that he, “could be fired by the president for any reason or no reason at all.” However, he said “shifting explanations” of why he was terminated, “confused me and increasingly concerned me.”
Later in his testimony, Comey admitted sending notes of his meetings with President Trump to a friend in order to leak them to the media. The former Bureau chief hoped that action would prompt the appointment of a special counsel. Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, later called for an investigation into the leak of “privileged information.”
During his nearly three hour testimony, Comey said he had “no doubt” Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 U.S. election.
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever,” he stated. “The Russians interfered in our election . . . They did it with purpose, they did it with sophistication, they did it with overwhelming technical efforts, and it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government.”
To if President Trump explicitly asked for the Russia investigation to stop he answered, “not to my understanding, no.” Comey also admitted that allegations Trump campaign aides had contacts with Russia in a February 14 New York Times article were “almost entirely wrong.” He stated that there were many stories regarding Russia that were, “just dead wrong.”
Comey also reiterated statements contained in his prepared remarks, parts of which were leaked prior to the session. He confirmed that President Trump spoke of asking for loyalty, wanting the investigation of fired National Security Advisor Mike Flynn stop and confirmed that Trump was not personally under investigation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) asked if it was unreasonable to confirm Trump was not under investigation. Comey answered, “I think that’s a reasonable point of view.”
When asked why he kept notes of meetings with President Trump, Comey stated he never felt the need to document meetings with others such as former Attorney General Loretta Lynch or President Obama, but felt the need with President Trump as he may lie about the conversations.
Comey did confirm that Lynch had asked him to change how he referred to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server from an “investigation” to a “matter”. While the request did make him “queasy”, Comey said he did not need to point out the ethical implications to Ms. Lynch.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Comey also accused Trump of attempting to, “defame me and, more importantly, the FBI,” with comments the agency was poorly run and that he had no confidence in Comey.
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” he said.
Trump responded on Twitter Friday morning, accusing Comey of being a government “leaker”, and saying he feels vindicated after the testimony.
Watch a highlight video of Comey’s testimony below.
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