Former FBI director James B. Comey on Thursday used a dramatic appearance before a national audience to sharply criticize the character of the president, accusing Trump of firing him over the Russia investigation and then misleading the public about the reasons for the dismissal.
Trump and his team, Comey said, told “lies, plain and simple,” about him and the FBI in an effort to cover up the real reason for his sudden sacking last month. Comey said that after one particularly odd private meeting with the president, he feared Trump “might lie” about the conversation, prompting him to begin taking careful notes after each encounter.
Comey revealed that after he was fired, he leaked notes on his interactions with Trump to the media, hoping that sharing the information would prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the administration over possible links to Russia.
“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”
Comey’s testimony threatened to deepen the legal and political crisis engulfing the White House, which has struggled to respond to growing questions about the president’s conduct.
“I can definitely say the president is not a liar,” said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after the hearing. “I think it’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked.”
Over nearly three hours of testimony in a packed hearing room, Comey grimly recounted the events that he said showed the president sought to redirect the Russia probe away from his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and get the FBI to publicly distance the president himself from the probe.
As Comey spoke, most senators on the dais sat spellbound. Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee sought to soften Comey’s version of events, noting that Trump never ordered him to drop the Flynn investigation but merely “hoped” he would. Democrats tried to build a case that Trump had obstructed justice by firing Comey.
Read more at The Washington Post.