As reported in today’s NYTimes, Washington Post, and other news outlets.
Speaking publicly for the first time since his abrupt firing, former FBI director James Comey told a Senate panel Thursday that he took President Trump’s words as “a direction” to drop the investigation of ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.
Comey said he now believes Trump fired him to relieve pressure from the ongoing FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russia. “I was fired in some way to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted,’’ Comey said. “That is a big deal. On top of that, the Russia investigation itself is vital because of the threat. And if any American were part of that, that is a very big deal.’’
Mr. Comey’s testimony forced Mr. Trump’s supporters into the uncomfortable position of drawing a distinction between suggesting that the F.B.I. close an investigation into a friend and outright ordering it. “Knowing my father for 39 years when he ‘orders or tells’ you to do something there is no ambiguity, you will know exactly what he means,” the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter during the hearing.
Comey also said Thursday that it was Trump’s tweeted implicit threat that he had taped their conversations that directly led him to provide the content of the memos to a friend, who disseminated it to the media. “I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape,” Comey said. “And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square. So I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.”
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said at another point in his testimony.
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