Ex-FBI Chief James Comey on Thursday said he believed that he was directed by President Donald Trump to end a criminal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, while accusing the President of telling lies during his highly anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“The administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly run. Those were lies, plain and simple”, Comey said during the hearing.
Moreover, Comey stated that he believed that he had been fired because Trump did not like the way the then FBI chief was handling the bureau’s broader investigation intoallegations that his 2016 campaign relied on Russian assistance.
As the former FBI chief said in the testimony, he was so concerned by Trump’s conduct that he took action to prompt the appointment of a special counsel after his dismissal.
He had initially intended to keep silent about Trump’s request that he should let Flynn investigation go because there was no way to confirm his side of the story, but then changed his mind after President Trump had suggested in a tweet that recordings of their private conversations might exist.
The memos he took from a meeting at the Oval Office described the encounter where Trump told Comey “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go”. At the time Flynn was then under criminal investigation, Comey confirmed.
Comey also stated that Trump himself was not the target of an investigation while he was in charge, and added that “they (the Russian) will be back, it’s not a Republican or a Democrat thing, it’s an American thing”.
“It’s a long term practice from Russia, they stepped up a notch last year and they will be back. Nobody tells us what to fight for and who to vote for expect Americans, but here we are talking about foreign country that wants to undermine our credibility, it’s not a Democrat or a Republican thing, they will be back for sure”, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee members.
After Comey left the open session, Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz denied major details of his testimony, stating that Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested” that Comey should stop investigating anyone, nor did he demand any kind of loyalty from him.
The White House initially claimed that Comey was fired over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, but Trump later told reporters that Comey wasn’t “doing a good job” and that he was thinking of the Russia investigation when he made the decision.