In the most highly anticipated Congressional hearing in years, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that President Donald Trump lied about his reason for firing him from his post as the head of the agency.
“He defamed me and the FBI,” Comey asserted. President Trump said he fired Comey because the agency was in disarray and the staff had lost confidence in its leader.
Today in very forthright terms, Comey disagreed. “Those were lies, plain and simple, and I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.”
Over two hours of compelling testimony, Comey hinted at a more nefarious explanation for his dismissal. He detailed phone conversations and face-to-face meetings including a White House dinner with Trump during which the President asked for a pledge of loyalty and for him to “let Flynn go.”
Michael Flynn is the former National Security Adviser under investigation for lying to FBI agents about receiving payments from Russians with close ties to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s President, and other foreign governments. Comey emphasized his certainty and the intelligence community’s evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election cycle. “There is no fuzz on that,” Comey stated. “They will be back.”
Comey requested a public hearing in the wake of his firing and President Trump’s tweets and interviews that seemed to question the career public servant’s integrity. In response to President Trump’s tweet suggesting there might be a tape from the White House dinner conversation with Comey, Comey asserted, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” He added, “Release all the tapes. I’m good with it.”
Comey told the Senate committee that he “memorialized” the meetings in notes he saved because he had a “gut feel” they would be important and he wanted to protect himself and the FBI. When asked if he had taken notes following meetings with other Presidents, Comey replied, “No.”
When asked if he thought President Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice, Comey replied, “I don’t know. That’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out.” Mueller is the special prosecutor appointed to investigate Russian involvement in the November election and any participation from members of the Trump campaign.