Though Republicans worked to discredit Comey and to blunt the impact of his testimony, the ex-director's statement deepened questions about the basis for his May 9 dismissal and about whether Trump's actions constituted obstruction of justice. "I took it as, this is what he wants me to do". But he did keep careful memos of his conversations with Trump, and he asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to spare him from any further one-on-one meetings with the president.
Comey put himself squarely at odds with Trump in characterizing their conversations over a three-month period.
The 6-foot-8 inch Comey, sitting ramrod straight in a navy blue suit, gave brief opening remarks in which he accused the Trump administration of defaming him and the Federal Bureau of Investigation following his abrupt dismissal May 9th by their charging the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led and the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.
The attorney continued: "Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration and from before this president - and from before this president took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications".
Yet for most news outlets, the hearing was a disaster for the White House, as demonstrated by the brutal headlines on the front pages of so many local and national newspapers on Friday morning.
The prospect of Trump tapes has conjured up memories of Richard Nixon, the disgraced former president who resigned in 1974.
The fact that information about Sessions was classified and Comey couldn't answer "means there's something out there that he knows about that the public doesn't, and that he thinks bears on a need for Sessions to recuse himself in matters that relate to Russian Federation", said Sen.
"One thing you don't ever hear about him is (that) people don't think he tells the truth". "Those were lies, plain and simple", Comey said.
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After the hearing, the president's personal lawyer issued a statement rejecting much of Mr Comey's allegations.
During his opening monologue, Colbert played footage of Comey's remarks and responded with punchlines.
The FBI is now investigating Trump's campaign team and his associates and whether they played any role in colluding with Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election. Comey delivered his answer clearly.
Even before Comey's cryptic reference Thursday, Democratic senators had been raising more questions about Sessions' contacts with Kislyak.
The former FBI director said he thought that would be inappropriate because Trump could potentially come under investigation later because the FBI is looking into his campaign team.
Comey said Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch, directed him to refer to the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails as a "matter" rather than an "investigation".
"That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI's work and that's concerning", he said.
"There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever, the Russians interfered in our election", Comey said. "That happened. It's about as unfake as you can possibly get".
If Robert Mueller, the independent prosecutor now running the FBI investigation, has not subpoenaed the tapes yet, you can believe somebody is drafting an order.
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