For Trump's White House, Flynn is a lingering presence

Alvin Kelly
June 9, 2017

He affirmed that the President said that he "hoped" Comey could let the investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn go but that this statement did not amount to an order or direction.

Former FBI Director James Comey accused the Trump administration Thursday of spreading "lies, plain and simple" about him and the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing, in dramatic testimony that threatened to undermine Donald Trump's presidency. "I expect loyalty." Comey says he replied that he could offer his honesty, and that when Trump said he wanted "honest loyalty", Comey paused and said, "You will get that from me".

Not once did Trump mention Comey's testimony, where the former FBI director suggested Trump was a liar and left the door open to an obstruction of justice investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The Justice Department responded late Thursday, saying that after consultations with department ethics officials Sessions recused himself because of his involvement in Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, "for that reason, and that reason alone".

Comey opened his testimony with a short statement in which he said that in the wake of his firing, the Trump administration "chose to defame me and then the Federal Bureau of Investigation". The hearing unfolded amid intense political interest, and within a remarkable political context as Comey delivered detrimental testimony about the president who fired him, a president who won election only after Comey damaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the final days of the campaign.

The president also told Russian diplomats the day after firing Comey that doing so relieved great pressure on him from the Russia investigation.

Kasowitz will give a statement following Comey's testimony.

The testimony, Comey's first public statements since his May 9 dismissal, is likely to bring hours of uncomfortable attention to an administration shadowed for months by an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

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Comey declined to answer a number of questions in a hearing open to the public, and presumably will save many of those answers for the closed session to follow.

"As long as I'm president, no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or preaching what is in your heart", he said.

Comey went on to testify that because the memos were unclassified and he felt they were his personal recollections of events, he believed he was in a position to share them.

With trademark flair, Comey told the committee, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes" of his conversations with Trump. In the testimony, Comey challenged Trump to release the tapes of their conversation in February saying that, "All I can do is hope". Under questioning Thursday, Comey strongly asserted the intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation did indeed meddle in the 2016 election. Comey said he was confused and concerned when Trump changed his explanations on why he fired him.

Justice Department staff recommended Mr. Sessions recuse himself, he said, exclusively because of his involvement in the Trump campaign, where he was a prominent surrogate and chairman of the campaign's national security advisory committee.

"The media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point", he said.

The Trump administration initially claimed that the reason Mr Comey was sacked was because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email server scandal, but the United States president later said in an interview with NBC that it was also connected to "this Russian thing". Mr. James Comey also told that the team had lost confidence in me which was utterly false. The reason is "problematic", but can't be discussed in public, Comey said.

No matter what happens with the Comey hearing, politics will continue to be on the minds of investors.

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