James Comey testimony highlights: Former FBI director accuses Trump administration of ‘lies’

James Comey hearing: The testimony is Comey's first address to media after he was sacked from his position on May 9.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 8, 2017 10:35 pm
James Comey hearing, Comey Trump, Comey hearing, FBI director James Comey, Trump-Russia link, Russia's role in US presidential election (Left) ex-FBI director James Comey; (right) US president Donald Trump

Former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday in connection with the probe into the former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. Comey’s hearing saw him talking about the Trump administration’s influence on the Russian investigation.

HIGHLIGHTS

10:10 pm: So the hearing will now adjourn for a recess. It is likely that the open hearing has come to a close. Comey and the committee will likely enter the closed hearing when it reconvenes. Thank you for staying with us.

10 pm: Right now, Senator McCain is only asking questions about the Clinton scandal and not about the Russian investigation, which was the actual topic of the hearing. A lot of people on Twitter are asking whether Sen McCain is okay.

9:55 pm: A bunch of American reporters are quoting sources close to the Trump administration that the President never asked for Comey’s loyalty. So far, the President has kept silent. There is not one tweet.

9:45 pm: A lot of the senators on the committee had good things to say about Comey. One of the senators said the former FBI director was a ‘good man’ and that he had been dealt a bad hand beginning with the Clinton email scandal.

9:35 pm: There are major takeaways from this hearing. For one, the former FBI director has accused the Trump administration of defaming him and spreading lies. “Although the law required no reason at all to fire the FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organisation was in disarray, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said.

Although he said the President did not ask him to stop the Russia investigation, he admitted the conversations he had were ‘disturbing.’ He also said that he took notes of the meetings because he knew there is a chance the President may lie about it. Many of the questions were not answered properly as the hearing was in an open setting in the presence of the media.  The former FBI director admitted to leaking the memos of his meetings with Trump through a friend.

Comey also testified that he had no doubt that Russia, in a sophisticated way, interfered with the presidential election.

9:25 pm: This is Kamala Harris, Democratic Party senator from California.

9:20 pm: Comey, when asked if Trump colluded with Russia during the election, says he should not answer that in an open setting.

9:15 pm: “All I can do is hope. The president knows whether or not he tapes me. If he did, my feelings are not hurt. Release the tapes.” – Comey on the President.

Comey says he does not know whether he would have been fired as the FBI director if Hillary Clinton became president. He adds it is up to Robert Mueller if Trump’s actions amounted to obstruction of justice.

9:00 pm: Comey says he did not leak information in the memos to reporters directly because that would be like ‘feeding seagulls at the beach.’ He says he would encourage his ‘friend’ to release the memos.

The former FBI director jokingly says he had to break a date with his wife because he had to go to dinner with the President. He says he likes spending time with his wife and that he would have preferred to do that.

8:55 pm: So, there are lots of tweets coming in from Trump Jr’s account. So far, the President has been silent.

8:50 pm: Yes, so much so that I assumed there would be others: Comey on whether he found the one-on-one dinner with the President odd.

Comey asked a close friend – a Columbia Law School professor – to share a memo with the press after Trump suggested there might be tapes of their meetings. “The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose, they did it with sophistication, says Comey.

8:45 pm: If you just tuned in, we summarise what Comey has testified so far. The former FBI director has said that he has no doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the presidential election. While he declined to say whether the president tried to obstruct justice in their conversations, he said he found the conversations ‘disturbing.’ At the same time, he testified that the President did not ask him to stop the investigation into Flynn’s ties with Russia. He also said that the President was not under investigation.

8:40 pm: Comey says, ‘Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

He says he felt that his job was contingent on whether he showed loyalty.

8:30 pm: 

Comey on why he didn’t tell President that Flynn conversation was inappropriate: “I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in.” He says he hopes there are ‘tapes’ of the talks at the meetings with Trump. The timing of your firing stinks: Democratic senator to Comey.

8:25 pm: And midway into the hearing, Trump Jr tweets:

8:20 pm | Comey on President Trump’s hope that Flynn case with respect to Russia would be dropped: “I took it as a direction.”

Comey says he thinks the Russian investigation played a role in his firing as the FBI director.

8:15 pm: America needs more like you, Republican senator on the committee tells James Comey.

Risch: “President was not under investigation – is that a fair statement?”

Comey: “That’s correct.”

Risch: “President did not direct you to let it go.”

Comey: “Not in his words, no.”

8:10 pm: Comey says he believes Trump was trying to extract something from him in exchange for keeping him in the FBI job. He adds that Trump did not ask him about any other ongoing FBI investigation.

8:05 pm: Comey says he took notes of the meetings he had with Trump. Inference: The president lies.

Comey says, “I knew that there might come a day when I would need a record… not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI.”

8:01 pm: There is a lot of interest on Twitter around the hearing. People are saying that Senator Burr’s questions were solid and Comey’s answers solid.

8 pm IST: 

Burr: “Would you say that it’s normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration?”

Comey: “Yes.”

7:55 pm IST: 

Burr: “Did any individual working for this administration ask you to stop the Russian investigation?”

Comey: “No.”

Burr: “Did POTUS at any time ask you to stop the FBI investigation into Russian involvement…?”

Comey: “Not to my understanding, no.”

Senator Burr: “Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?”

Comey: “I’m confident.”

Comey: ‘I don’t think its for me to say’ that the Trump administration obstructed justice.

7:50 pm IST: I am sorry I could not say goodbye properly. I will miss the FBI, says Comey.

No doubt that Russia interfered in the election, says Comey

7:45 pm IST: Comey takes oath of truth. He begins to speak now.

The President and I had a lot of conversations since he took office. He told me I was doing a good job. So it confused me that when I saw on TV that I was fired because of the Russian investigation: Comey

The administration chose to defame me and thus the FBI: Comey

7:35 pm IST: Republican Senator Richard Burr is the chairman of the intelligence committee and he is speaking right now. He explains the background of the hearing and says he expects Comey to come out with the truth. We understand the Trump will watch a part of the hearing as his public schedule is clear till the afternoon. The administration’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz is present at the hearing.

Comey is likely to testify that Trump pressed him for his ‘loyalty’ and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

7:30 pm IST: Comey’s hearing has begun. We will bring you all the live updates from the Senate committee hearing.

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