WASHINGTON: Fired FBI director James Comey took the stand on Thursday in a crucial Senate hearing, repeating explosive allegations that President Donald Trump badgered him over the highly sensitive investigation Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.
In a jam-packed hearing room on Capitol Hill, Comey immediately faced pressure from the Senate Intelligence Committee over whether Trump was obstructing justice in phone calls and meetings they held before the president fired him on May 9.
"This is not how a president of the United States behaves," said Democratic Senator Mark Warner in an opening statement. "Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into those Russia links, Director Comey's firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of."
Here are updates:
- Comey says that shifting explanations of his firing confused and concerned him.
- President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job, said Comey. The former FBI director told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.
- Comey says he was "confused" by the explanation that his decisions during the 2016 election was the reason he was fired by Trump.
- After his firing, Comey said, President Donald Trump's administration spread "lies, plain and simple" and "defamed" him and the FBI.
- The former FBI director opened his Senate testimony Thursday by stating that the administration's explanations for his firing confused and concerned him. He didn't say what the lies were.
- He also told the Senate, "I was confused when ex-AG Lynch instructed me to refer to Clinton email case as '''matter, not 'investigation'."
- He described as "very disturbing" requests by President Donald Trump that he drop an investigation into a former national security advisor's ties to Russia.
- "I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning," he said before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
- Comey says he thought during a January dinner with President Donald Trump that the president was "looking to get something" in exchange for allowing him to stay on as FBI director.
- "I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning," Comey said, speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the hearing that is being broadcast live around the world.
- "But that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work towards to find out the intention and whether that's an offense," he added, referring to the independent prosecutor placed in charge of the FBI's Russia probe.
- James Comey says he was concerned Donald Trump would "lie" about the nature of his first conversation with him.
- Says he created memo on January meeting with Trump because "I was honestly concerned that he might lie"
- Trump's behavior was new to him, Comey said, and led him to think, "I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way."
- During the meeting, Trump asked if he personally was under investigation. Comey says he told him he was not at that time.
- Trump fired Comey in May. At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into Russia's election meddling and ties with the Trump campaign.
- Comey says he took Trump's request to back off former National Securtity Advisor Michael Flynn probe as a 'direction'
- Comey: I didn't immediately reject Trump request to drop Flynn probe because 'I was so stunned ... I just took it in'
- Speaking about Donald Trump's tweet that he could refute what James Comey was saying because he had recorded conversations, Comey said he would be glad if there were tapes.
- FBI thought Attorney General Jeff Sessions would recuse himself from Russia probe for 'variety of reasons', said Comey. He told the hearing he couldn't say more in public.
- He said career officials in the Justice Department had been urging Sessions to step aside from the probe. Sessions did so in March, after it was revealed that he twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Sessions failed to disclose those contacts when pressed by Congress during his confirmation hearing.
Reacting to Comey's statements at the Senate hearing, Speaker Paul Ryan says FBI director needs to be independent, says Trump unfamiliar with protocol and that he is 'just new to this'.
President Donald Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz plans to make a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.
- Fired FBI director James Comey admitted Thursday he leaked his personal notes on his meetings with President Donald Trump to prompt the naming of a special prosecutor to lead the Russia probe.
- He said he asked a friend at Columbia Law School to share his written recollection of those conversations with a reporter after Trump fired him on May 9.
- "I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons," Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "But I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel" to conduct the investigation into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian meddling in the 2016 election, he said.
The New York Times published a report on the Comey memo on May 16, and the following day former FBI director Robert Mueller was named special counsel to take over the investigation.
A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions — after days of refusing to answer the questions. Press secretary Sean Spicer had said earlier this week that he wasn't sure about the president's opinion on Sessions because he hadn't discussed the topic with him.
President Donald Trump avoided directly responding to explosive accusations made by his ex-FBI director Thursday, but sought to rally supporters behind a message of defiance.
"We are going to fight and win" Trump said, addressing supporters at a Faith and Freedom Coalition event in the capital. The White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said during a briefing, "I can definitely say the president is not a liar and frankly am insulted by that question."