Comey testimony: Senator says Trump can't be prosecuted 'for hoping something'

Former FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday that President Donald Trump pressured him to to drop an investigation into one of his senior advisers, fired him after he would not do so and lied about the affair.

At the hearing, Comey did not repeat his written testimony, but he touched on the meetings with Trump while answering questions, and his own firing.

Former FBI director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, in Washington. Whether justice was obstructed, he said, was a question for recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. "But for many people in the middle, their opinion of the president will decline and their reservations will strengthen".

The lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump denies that his client pressured Comey to drop any investigation or asked him to take a loyalty pledge. The former FBI director does detail how he did tell Trump on three separate occasions that he was not himself under investigation - a surprising assertion Trump put in his termination letter to Comey. Still, there's no doubt the veteran lawman made for a challenging adversary.

But, Mr Comey testified, Mr Trump did NOT ask him to drop the FBI's broader investigation into Russian Federation meddling in the 2016 election and whether Mr Trump's campaign helped. "And so I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to".

"I've seen the tweet about the tapes", Comey said. "I hope you can let this go".

"Those were lies, plain and simple", Comey said as the room fell into a hushed silence. Republicans mindful of the gravity of the moment worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing.

And across the Capitol, as Comey was midway through his testimony, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., dismissed Trump's demands of "loyalty" from Comey as a novice politician who does not understand that the Federal Bureau of Investigation needs to maintain its independence from political influence.

In a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition Thursday, Trump stuck largely to his prepared remarks and made no direct reference to Comey. "I was sacked in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russian Federation investigation was being conducted". The Justice Department says Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation only because he was involved in President Donald Trump's campaign.

"So you took as a direction from the president something that you thought was serious and troublesome, but continued to show up for work the next day?"

Cotton: I want to turn your attention now to Mr. Flynn.

"Mr. Comey's remarks during his testimony confirmed the facts that I have stated for nearly a month now", Green said in a written statement.

"Sure", Comey said. "In any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation, that are criminal in nature".

Referring to a Trump comment on social media about the possible existence of tapes that could provide proof of their conversations, Comey said he was so rankled he chose to hand memos of his interactions with the president to a close friend to leak to the media. Mr Comey said he didn't.

But Gerhardt said he didn't think Comey's testimony changed the needle one way or the other as to whether obstruction had occurred.

In response to that report, the Justice Department said there was no meeting at the Mayflower.

"My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving, which is why he was lingering", Comey said. Instead, Kasowitz pushed back and the president remained conspicuously silent on Twitter during the hearing despite expectations he might respond.

The way Mr Comey tells it, the first time he met Mr Trump, Mr Comey got the heebie-jeebies - for a whole bunch of small reasons but nothing in particular.

But Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who sits on the intelligence committee, said the matter was nowhere near over. "President, this is wrong, '?"

Comey replied with a quotation attributed to King Henry II of England, who was at odds with Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. "Maybe if I were stronger I would have".

I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in. Trump's attorney said the president never asked Comey to stop investigating anyone. The rest were packed with members of the press, political VIPs, members of the Senate intelligence committee, and Comey himself, who spent almost three hours fielding questions from the committee. "There should be no fuzz on this".

Comey referred to that context in concluding that he was convinced he was sacked because of the Russian investigation. "That happened. It's about as unfake as you can possibly get". Trump has begrudgingly accepted that assessment. He referred to the investigation as a "Witch Hunt".

  • Leroy Wright