Chris Matthews: Trump-Russia collusion theories 'came apart' during Comey testimony

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 8, 2017.

Trump's lawyer says the president "never, in form or substance" directed Comey to stop investigating anyone, and Republicans suggested Comey was reading too much into it. "I hope you can let this go", Trump said, according to Comey's memo.

"I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly, that I was sacked because of the decisions I had made during the election year", Comey said.

Matthews also said that "Flynn wasn't central to the Russian investigation" and "if that's not the case, where's the there-there?" Comey also said Trump pressured him to drop an FBI investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and that he demanded Comey's "loyalty" during the early months of his administration.

In an unorthodox move, Great America Alliance, an offshoot of a pro-Trump super PAC devoted to promoting the White House agenda, developed a television ad called "Showboat" to air as Comey testified.

Mr Comey, who was sacked by Mr Trump last month, dropped the bombshell by his statement which many experts say could be seen as obstruction to justice.

In written remarks published June 7, Comey corroborated press accounts that Trump had requested a loyalty pledge from the Federal Bureau of Investigation director in January at a private dinner, and added that he believed Trump sought a "patronage relationship" - which Comey indicated to mean a relationship in which Comey, as Trump's subordinate, would be expected to behave in a manner consistent with the president's wishes.

"I don't want to be unfair". Telemundo, in the moments before Comey started, also showed a simulated reconstruction of Trump and Comey meeting in the White House, with conversations in Spanish printed in cartoon-like bubbles over their heads.

Comey learned of his abrupt dismissal while giving a speech, and said he was sorry he didn't get a chance to say farewell to his former colleagues. And while Comey's refusal to confirm "any criminal allegations contained in the Steele document" certainly leaves things open to speculation, it should not be taken as verification of the dossier.

The only way there could ever be a criminal case against Comey for leaking his memos, Vladeck told me, is if they contain classified national security information (in that case, a leak could be a violation of the Espionage Act) or information "that has pecuniary value to the United States" (which could be a violation of the federal conversion-of-property statute).

Even as Comey laid bare an astounding account of his conversations with the president, he made clear that key details about the investigation remain unknown to the public. Congress, though, could impeach the president - which makes Comey's testimony before legislators all the more important.

Comey said Trump repeatedly told him he was doing a good job, "so it confused me when I saw on television that he actually fired me because of the Russian Federation investigation".

Trump has disputed Comey's account and implied on Twitter that there may be taped recordings of their encounters.

Finding that out, as Comey noted, is now up to the special counsel, Robert Mueller.

Legal analysts have said previously that there was reason to believe Trump might have obstructed justice - both in asking him to shut down the probe into Flynn and then, later, in firing Comey.

And part of his decision-making came from a conversation with Obama's acting attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

Mr Comey states that Mr Trump asked him on several occasions to publicly state that he was not under investigation.

Comey's reply on Thursday as to the presence of tapes?

"I don't know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate", he said.

Comey previously told lawmakers he believes Russian Federation poses the United States' "greatest threat".

  • Salvatore Jensen