During his much-anticipated testimony for the congressional probe into Russia's role in the 2016 election, former FBI Director James Comey disclosed several things that are likely to draw both controversy and scrutiny.
On June 8, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee as a part of its investigation into whether the Russian government had worked to impact the 2016 presidential race. In his opening statement, Comey asserted that President Donald Trump had dishonestly maligned his character.
Trump fired Comey May 9 and subsequently criticized the FBI director's conduct and ability to lead the bureau. During his testimony, Comey stated that the president's comments were not consistent with what he had been told before his dismissal.
"And [Trump] had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and he hoped I would stay… 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, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader," Comey said, according to a transcript by The New York Times.
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"Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey added.
The former FBI director accused Trump of dishonesty again when he recounted why he had written a memo following a Feb. 14 meeting with the president. In his memo of the event, Comey alleged that Trump asked him to drop a federal investigation into former White House national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
"I was honestly concerned [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting," Comey said while explaining why he drafted a memo immediately after the encounter.
The former FBI director added that, while Trump had not explicitly ordered him to cease his investigation into Flynn, he interpreted the president's phrasing "as a direction."
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In what was likely the most startling revelation of the day, Comey stated that he had arranged for his memo to be leaked to the press after Trump had signaled that their conversations were recorded.
On May 12, Trump tweeted out "Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey said before explaining that the president's suggestion that there conversations were taped indicated to him that his memo could be corroborated by existing evidence. The former FBI director revealed that he asked an acquaintance to disclose details of the memo to the media.
"I thought it very important to get it out," Comey said, adding that he anticipated the memo's disclosure would help prompt the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation, USA Today reports.
When asked why he used a third party to relay details of his memo to the press, Comey explained that he did not want journalists pestering him for further information.
"I was worried it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach," Comey said.
Comey noted that he was unsure of why he was fired, but speculated that it was due to the Russia investigation based on Trump's previous comments.
"I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," Comey said, according to Politico. "Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve."
On May 11, Trump stated during an interview that he had decided to dismiss Comey regardless of recommendations made by the DOJ.
"When I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story," Trump told NBC News.
While Comey did not directly accuse Trump of obstructing justice, he suggested that the president's conduct would be investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Newsweek reports.
"I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning," Comey said of Trump's request that he drop the Flynn investigation. "But that's a conclusion I'm sure the special counsel will work toward, to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that's an offense."
When Comey was pressed on why he did not immediately advise Trump that his behavior was potentially illegal, the former FBI director stated "Maybe if I were stronger I would have… I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in."
The hearing also touched on his probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. Comey revealed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had asked him to refer to the Clinton issue as a "matter" rather than an "investigation," a request he said gave him a "queasy feeling."