Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on June 8.
James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday (June 8) on his interactions with President Donald Trump and other issues relating to investigation of Russia’s efforts to disrupt the U.S. presidential election campaign and its outcome. In nearly three hours of testimony, including a closed-door "classified" session, Comey confirmed points made in a statement he had made a day earlier and released by the committee. During his appearance, Comey said reasons given for his firing in May “lies, plain and simple,” and while he had never previously documented his meetings with presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, he became concerned Trump would lie about their meetings and interactions, and thus wrote them down as a matter of record.
Here are highlights:
1. Comey said he was fired because of the Russia probe.
“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”
2. Comey took notes because he thought Trump might lie.
Comey had served for more than three years as FBI director under President Barack Obama. During that time, he and Obama talked privately twice, but Comey never took notes on those interactions. In his brief time as head of the FBI under Trump, however, Comey said he had nine interactions that concerned him to the point he felt it necessary to make detailed memos.
“I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting,” Comey said.
3. Comey says he was ‘defamed’ by Trump and White House.
Comey began his testimony with a statement refuting claims from the White House that he was fired because of poor morale or turmoil at the FBI.
“The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led,” Comey said. “Those were lies, plain and simple. And I’m so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry the American people were told them.’”
4. Comey says he helped leak accounts of his talks with Trump to get a special counsel appointed.
Soon after Comey was fired, news articles began to appear with details of his discussions with Trump; some stories, including a May 16 New York Times account that cited two people who had seen Comey’s notes. The accounts reported on Trump pressing Comey to “drop” the investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.
In testimony Thursday, Comey admitted he had stories cited notes the former FBI director kept of those interactions.
“As a private citizen, I felt free to share that,” Comey said. “I thought it was very important to get it out.” Comey said his decision to release the memo was aimed at getting a special prosecutor appointed. Comey said he has since provided his memos to Robert S. Mueller III, the former FBI director appointed as special counsel not long after Comey was fired.
5. Comey said the FBI knew Attorney General Jeff Sessions would recuse himself in the Russia-related investigation— but wouldn’t say why in public testimony.
When asked about this Thursday by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Comey suggested that there were reasons Sessions could not remain involved in the probe but that those reasons involved classified information.
The Washington Post timeline report of James Comey’s testimony and the response from Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is here.
The New York Times thumbnail profiles of members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are here. The Guardian’s report on the “chilling effect” Trump conversations had on the FBI investigation is here.
The New York Times running account of Comey’s testimony, with background, is here.
The text of Comey’s prepared statement for the Senate Intelligence Committee, provided and released a day before the testimony, is here.
The May 16 New York Times report of Comey’s notes on being pressed by Trump is here.
The transcript of Comey’s testimony, from Politico, is here.
The NPR Video record, with a running account, of the Comey hearing is here.
The Twitter record of tweets relating to the Comey testimony and reaction from Trump’s personal lawyer is here.