James Comey testifies before Senate Intelligence Committee

"Mr. Comey's testimony also makes clear that the President never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election", his attorney Marc Kasowitz said. "Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers".

Comey also faces questions about his private interactions with Trump, and whether the president abused his power in demanding loyalty from the former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief.

Some legal experts told ABC News that Trump's requests as detailed in the memo, which ABC News has not seen, could meet the legal definition of obstruction.

If all of Washington will tune in Thursday as fired FBI Director James Comey testifies about the tense and politically fraught series of conversations he had with Donald Trump, perhaps no one will watch more closely, or with more at stake, than Trump himself. "As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the long course of these events".

"I can definitely say the president is not a liar", Sanders said. "It's frankly insulting that that question would be asked". "During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance". "I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest".

Comey said he took those notes after every private meeting with Trump due to both the subject matter of the conversation and because he was "honestly concerned (Trump) might lie about the nature of our meeting". Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said that Comey's opening statement "answered a lot of questions" and expressed interest "in him confirming what he said" during Thursday's hearing.

But Comey also says he didn't interpret Trump's Flynn request as an effort to end "the broader investigation into Russian Federation or possible links to his campaign". But the aim of actually triggering a potential criminal investigation involving the White House would constitute a distinctly hardball variation on an old theme.

That turns out to be the last meeting between Trump and Comey, but the two talk by phone at least twice more before Trump fires Comey on May 9.

Although Comey has told associates he will not accuse the president of obstructing justice, he will dispute the president's contention that Comey told him three times he is not under investigation, according to ABC News.

The narrative in Comey's prepared testimony, which the Senate Intelligence Committee released Wednesday, includes allegations that the president told him, "I expect loyalty", pressed him to lift the "cloud" of investigation over the White House and asked - but didn't order - him to drop an inquiry into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

On March 20, he revealed publicly that the FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign since last July - in a House hearing which prefaced the House investigation nearly spiraling out of control.

If there was a sliver of a doubt about Comey's finesse as a longtime inside bureaucratic player, it was dispelled during his much-heralded Senate testimony that prompted 24/7 pre-hearing speculated (especially on cable news networks) and blanket press coverage Thursday.

Trump said he felt "totally vindicated" by the testimony, according to a statement by his lawyer published in USA media.

  • Leroy Wright