Republican National Committee uses James Comey's testimony to plea for money

"At one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which concerned and confused me", Comey said.

Both the conversation between Trump and Comey about Flynn and the firing itself were obstructive acts, she said. "That happened. It's about as unfake as you can possibly get".

In occasionally explosive statements, he portrayed Mr Trump as a chief executive dismissive of the FBI's independence and made clear that he interpreted Mr Trump's request to end an investigation into his former national security adviser as an order from the president. Comey explained that this was "technically" the case during his Federal Bureau of Investigation tenure.

Commentator Keith Olbermann characterized pronouncements Thursday by former FBI Director James Comey as the "most damning things ever spoken about any president in our history". In a February 14 one-on-one encounter in the Oval Office, Trump asked Comey to lay off Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who is one subject of the probe.

Mr Comey said it was not up to him but instead the independent special counsel in the Russian probe, Robert Mueller, to decide whether Mr Trump broke a law. And Risch noted that Comey had said he interpreted Trump's words as a "direction" to drop the Flynn investigation.

Read: Trump breaks silence to call Comey 'a leaker.'

As a seasoned prosecutor he posed the question, "So why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office? That to me as an investigator, is a very significant fact".

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, Deputy White House Press Secretary: "I can definitively say the president is not a liar". "The president knows if he taped me, and if he did, my feelings aren't hurt".

During Comey's testimony he admitted to writing down several conversations he had with President Donald Trump.

Comey testified that after he was sacked, he gave copies of the memos he wrote about his meetings with Trump to "a friend of mine to share" with reporters.

"I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel", he said. And indeed it did. In fact, Trump favored dropping the criminal investigation, Comey added. Comey also refused to characterize anything the president had done as being against the law.

Trump tweeted on Friday, May 12, that "James Comey better hope that there are no "tapes" of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press". The Times ran a story about the memo contents later that day. New York Times reporters corroborated Comey's timeline on Thursday after Kasowitz's statement.

He then dove into the heart of the fraught political controversy around his firing and whether Trump interfered in the bureau's Russian Federation investigation, as he elaborated on written testimony released a day earlier.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia asked Comey the key question: "Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?". Risch repeatedly questioned Comey about the exact wording used by President Trump to him in private, which Comey recorded in his much-discussed memo.

Thursday's hearing included discussion of that email investigation, as Comey disclosed that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch instructed him to refer to the issue as a "matter", not an "investigation".

Trump's elder son was active on Twitter, however, defending his dad. "Maybe if I were stronger I would have".

Early this week former House speaker and Trump strategist Newt Gingrich said the president is "infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level that the elite media has tolerated [the Russian Federation story] and praised Comey".

  • Zachary Reyes