Former FBI director James Comey has testified at a congressional hearing session saying that he began documenting his meetings with US President Donald Trump
, fearing the president might lie.
Comey appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday for the first time since he was fired in the midst of an ongoing investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election, before and after Trump’s inauguration.
“Although the law required no reason at all to fire the FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly run, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said.
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” he told the committee.
“I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them and that the American people were told that,” Comey added.
He further said, “I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning.”
The former FBI chief said he took as a direction Trump’s remark that he hoped Comey would drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey told the committee he did see Trump’s request for loyalty from him. He then described the demand as very disturbing.
“My common sense told me what’s going on here is he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job,” Comey noted.
Comey added that he has no doubt Moscow interfered with the US election.
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with James Comey during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House, January 22, 2017.
In the testimony, Comey continued, “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation… the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal, not just because it’s me…but because of the crucial independent nature of FBI investigations.”
On the eve of his appearance on Capitol Hill, Comey revealed that the US president had asked him to drop a probe into former national security advisor, Michael Flynn whom Trump had dismissed over his ties to Russia.
Last month, Trump set a political firestorm after he sacked the FBI chief citing what he called Comey’s poor performance.
“So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation and learned again from the media that he was telling, privately, other parties that my firing had relieved ‘great pressure’ on the Russia investigation,” Comey said at the testimony.