President Trump's Nightmares Persists As Comey Accuses White House of ‘Lies’ and Says Trump Tried to Derail Inquiry

“Those were lies, plain and simple,” James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, discussing White House explanations for his firing .

James B. Comey, the recently fired F.B.I. director, said Thursday in an extraordinary Senate hearing that he believed that President Trump had clearly tried to derail an F.B.I. investigation into his former national security adviser and that the president had lied and defamed him.
Mr. Comey, no longer constrained by the formalities of a government job, offered a blunt, plain-spoken assessment of a president whose conversations unnerved him from the day they met, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. His testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee provided an unflattering back story to his abrupt dismissal and squarely raised the question of whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.
Answering that falls to the Justice Department special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Comey revealed that he gave all of the memos he wrote on his interactions with the president to Mr. Mueller’s investigators, the first suggestion that prosecutors would investigate Mr. Comey’s firing last month.
Republicans who came to Mr. Trump’s defense argued that he had been making a suggestion, not ordering Mr. Comey to drop the investigation into the former adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey demurred on whether the president’s actions had amounted to a felony, but said the intent was clear: “I took it as a direction.” If Mr. Trump had had his way, Mr. Comey said, “We would have dropped an open criminal investigation.”
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In the month since he fired Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump has faced a crush of damaging news stories about the nature of their private conversations. During his testimony on Thursday, Mr. Comey revealed that he had helped feed that coverage.
Senators Mark Warner, ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Richard Burr, chairman of the committee, listening to Mr. Comey’s testimony

Two days after Mr. Comey was ousted, The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had asked him to pledge loyalty to him. The president then tweeted that Mr. Comey had “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’” of their meetings.
That post inspired Mr. Comey, who responded by allowing a friend to read portions of a memo about his interactions with the president to The Times. Mr. Comey said Thursday that he had hoped to spur the appointment of a special counsel. He succeeded. A day after The Times revealed the contents of that memo, which described the conversation about Mr. Flynn, the Justice Department appointed Mr. Mueller to take over the investigation.
The White House has not commented on whether recordings exist. But Mr. Comey repeatedly baited Mr. Trump to produce them if they did. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said at the hearing. He added: “The president surely knows if there are tapes. If there are, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release the tapes.”
Mr. Trump has offered a changing explanation for why Mr. Comey was fired. The original justification was Mr. Comey’s controversial handling of last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The White House said that Mr. Comey had lost the support of his agents and that the F.B.I. was in disarray.
Those were lies, plain and simple,” Mr. Comey said Thursday. Mr. Comey said the president had defamed him, an apparent reference to Mr. Trump’s calling him a “nut job” in a private meeting with Russian diplomats.
Mr. Trump ultimately acknowledged that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he fired Mr. Comey.
Mr. Comey confirmed that Mr. Trump had not been personally under investigation but said agents would certainly review his activities as part of a broad investigation into possible collusion between Russian operatives and Trump campaign officials. As F.B.I. director, he assured Mr. Trump several times that he was not under investigation.
In a statement after the hearing, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, portrayed Mr. Comey as a leaker who had tried to undermine the Trump administration. He said Mr. Trump had never sought a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey. And he flatly denied that the president had tried to end he Flynn investigation.
The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” Mr. Kasowitz said.
The testimony nevertheless deepens the controversy surrounding Mr. Trump. It forced his supporters into the uncomfortable position of drawing a line between a president who suggests that the F.B.I. close an investigation into a friend and one who outright orders it.
The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. weighed in on that question on Twitter during the hearing. “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,” he wrote.

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