James Comey tells Senate committee Trump lied over reasons for his dismissal

James Comey tells Senate committee Trump lied over reasons for his dismissal
James Comey gave a series of startling statements, accusing the president of lying on a number of occasions and raising questions over the attorney general's own legal status.
3 min read
09 June, 2017

The former director of the FBI accused the President of the United States of lying and confirmed that an investigation was open into whether the President was obstructing justice.

James Comey accused Donald Trump of lying on several occasions in his testimony to the US Senate select committee on intelligence on Thursday, adding that he didn't feel safe being in the same room as him alone.

"From the first time I was alone with the president elect, I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting. I've never felt that way before."

When asked why he hadn't asked the president to drop the matter, Comey said he was "stunned".

"I was playing in my mind what should my response me. Lordy I hope there are tapes."

When asked if special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was investigating Trump for obstructing justice, Comey replied: "I'm sure."

The Flynn Affair

In a remarkable series of exchanges with senior US senators, Comey said he felt Trump had directed him, not advised, to drop his investigation into former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn.

Special counsel Mueller currently has a separate case open into whether Trump obstructed justice by impeding an ongoing FBI investigation into Flynn.

'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,' Comey wrote in a memo shortly after leaving the president.

Senator Risch said: "We know exactly what happened at these meetings because of your contemporaneous notes and quotes."

Comey told the committee that Flynn was in "legal jeopardy" as there was an open legal investigation into Flynn's interactions with the Russian government.

"There was an open FBI criminal investigation [at the time he resigned] of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts and the contacts themselves."

Comey said for the first time on Thursday that he had handed over his memos on these conversations to special counsel Mueller.

Trump's "lies"

When asked to comment on Trump's excuse for firing him, Comey said: "Those were lies, plain and simple."

The circumstances in which Comey was fired was questioned on a number of occasions and criticised by two separate senators.

Senator Wyden said: "The timing of your firing stinks," while Senator Warner said the circumstances were "ultimately shocking".

There were a number of interactions in which the president was accused of acting in behaviour that not befitting the Oval office.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said: "I can definitively say the president is not a liar, and frankly I'm insulted by that question."

On Sessions

When asked if there was facts that would make the Attorney General, Jefferson Sessions, involvement in the Russian investigation "problematic", Comey said he couldn't discuss the issue in public, suggesting for the first time that an investigation was potentially open.

"We were also aware of facts that I can't disclose in an open setting," Comey said.

Comey then repeated his refusal to comment on matters related to the Attorney General on a number of other occasions, adding that there were reasons why Sessions had chosen to recuse himself that he couldn't divulge in public.

In a separate exchange, Comey said he felt that Kushner and Sessions knew they should not have left him alone with the president.