Former FBI Director James Comey is providing testimony on his conversations with Trump and the FBI’s investigation into Russia.
In his opening remarks today to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey accused Trump’s administration of working to “defame” him and the FBI, and telling “lies” to the American people (no surprise there).
“Although the law requires no reason at all to fire an FBI director the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said.
“Those were lies plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI work force had to hear them and I am so sorry that the American people were told them.”
The now terminated FBI Director also stated that he understood Trump to be asking him to “drop” the probe into former national security advisor Michael Flynn when they spoke in February.
Comey’s testimony, based largely on written records he made after one-on-one conversations with Trump from January to April, casts light on Trump’s behavior with the former FBI chief and the president’s possible motives for firing Comey.
The ex-FBI director said he kept records of his meetings with Trump because he thought the president might lie.
Trump abruptly fired Comey last month amid an FBI probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
While he understood he “could be fired by a president for any reason or no reason at all,” Comey said he was confused and concerned by the White House’s shifting explanations of his firing.
The former FBI chief said he was confused because Trump had told him that he hoped he would stay on the job. Comey started a 10-year term in 2013.
Aside from the Flynn events, Comey’s written statement confirmed much of the account of his relationship with Trump that has emerged across the news media since his firing. Comey said he wrote records of his conversations with Trump “immediately” after they took place, something he did not do with Trump’s predecessor President Barack Obama, because he was concerned about Trump’s conduct.
Trump’s outside counsel, Marc Kasowitz, highlighted that Comey says he told Trump that the president was not personally under investigation. In a statement, the attorney said that the president feels “completely and totally vindicated” and “is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda.”