Fired FBI Director Comey faces Senate and rebuts Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey rebutted the president who fired him as he made his first public appearance since his dismissal last month, delivering spellbinding testimony Thursday that posed a palpable threat to Donald Trump’s White House.
In a wildly anticipated Senate intelligence committee hearing being viewed worldwide, Comey said in written testimony that Trump demanded his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.
Comey entered the overflowing Capitol Hill hearing room and took his seat at the witness table, alone, as the session got underway. He listened, hands clasped on his lap, as committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina delivered his opening statement.
“Today,” Burr told Comey, “is your opportunity to set the record straight.”
Burr is leading the committee’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and ties with Trump’s own campaign team.
After abruptly firing Comey in May, Trump said that he had Russia on his mind as he did so.
“We will establish the facts separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the American people to make their own judgement,” Burr said. “Only then will we be able to move forward and put this issue to rest.”
Trump was expected to dispute Comey’s claims that he demanded loyalty and asked the FBI director to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to a person close to the president’s legal team who demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss legal strategy.