Watch Live: Comey Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee

Jun 8, 2017

By Jessica Taylor

Updated at 11:59 a.m. ET

Former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday morning that he was “confused” and “increasingly concerned” about the “shifting explanations” President Trump gave for his firing just over a month ago.

When Trump fired him, he initially pointed to Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but then later conceded it was because of his handling of the Russia investigation and claimed Comey was overseeing a demoralized FBI in disarray.

“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, referring to reporting on Trump’s conversation with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after the dismissal.

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14 comments on “Watch Live: Comey Testifies Before Senate Intelligence Committee

  • @OP – but then later conceded it was because of his handling of the Russia investigation and claimed Comey was overseeing a demoralized FBI in disarray.

    The evidence an testimony of FBI colleagues shows Trump to be making up lies yet again! – Something Comey anticipated when he made detailed contemporary notes of conversations with Trump. – Something he had not done when having meetings with previous presidents Obama or Bush.

    I was impressed with Comey’s clear and precise testimony, demonstrating a competent understanding of issues of confidentiality, avoiding prejudicing any on-going investigation, and the need to refer answers to senators’ questions on sensitive security issues, to a closed session of questions for their ears only.

    This is in stark contrast to Trump’s amateurish, reckless, emotional blitherings, on Twitter.

    It seems that rather than studying details of Comey’s testimony on security issues and national security issues concerning his White-House team, Trump had gone off to a rally to flatter evangelical supporters of his campaign, and pretend that the nations’ prime concern, was the “obstructive Democrats” who were calling him to account!!

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  • I watched the whole session and I think it came out pretty much as anyone might have expected. Comey was professional and unflustered and precise in his answers. There was no smoking gun I could see in terms of obstruction of justice given the word “hope” that he said Trump used in respect of stopping the Flynn investigation and I’m sure lawyers will use that as sufficient reason not to call it an order. However Trump’s intent was clear and Comey’s perceived need to document everything spoke to Trump’s profligate mendacity.

    I don’t know what the hell happened to John McCain. He seemed to be confused and indeed perhaps suffering from the early stages of dementia. He wittered on and on about the Hillary email investigation as though it was directly connected to the Trump Russia one and why did Comey give her a pass but not Trump. It was quite disturbing in terms of his grip on the realities of the situation so maybe there is more to this medically we don’t yet know. Perhaps it’s time for him to hang up his spurs.

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  • If Comey believes that Pence was aware of Flynn’s connections to Russia then isn’t it possible that Flynn couldn’t have lied to Pence? Because Pence was aware. Could the reason for firing Flynn (lying to the VP) be a lie? What would that mean? Would that be an even bigger cover up?

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  • I’ve been watching Fox News. They’re already doing a job on Comey, spilling govt. secrets (they say he wrote the email on his work laptop), unfair treatment of Trump compared to Hilary Clinton, breach of confidence by leaking information etc. If they had their way, he’d be the one to go to jail, they are saying that he has probably committed criminal offences.

    On another related issue; if Trump is impeached, what might be the reaction of the heavily armed, militarily trained, redneck, lumpen and sans culotte elements in American society? Has anything been written about the consequenses that could arise?

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  • This BBC report covers some key issues.

    James Comey didn’t bury Donald Trump in his Senate testimony, but he dug a Trump-sized hole in the ground.

    While the former FBI director danced around what, if anything, the ongoing investigation into possible Trump campaign Russia ties has found, he was much more forthcoming about his relations with the president, before and after his dismissal – and how they made him feel.

    He was confused by the circumstances of his firing. He felt the president and his staff “defamed” him and, more importantly, the FBI as a whole.

    As for allegations that the bureau was in disarray? “Those were lies, plain and simple,” he said.

    He left drawing conclusions about the president’s behaviour to others, but the picture he painted wasn’t a flattering one.

    Mr Trump may not have been scheming, but his efforts to draw a pledge of loyalty from his FBI director, his pleading for him to go easy on his former national security adviser and his repeated requests for assurances that he, personally, was not under investigation were ham-handed at best.

    This all sets up a “he-said, he-said” conflict. As Mr Comey himself acknowledges, during the key meetings with the president, the two men were the only ones in the room.

    The former director, however, comes armed with a career reputation as a straight shooter – sometimes to a fault – who is willing to take what he views as the correct course even in the face of powerful adversaries.

    The president comes off a brawl of an election campaign, with more than half the American public doubtful of his very fitness for office.

    Mr Comey also confirmed he wrote numerous contemporaneous memos about his interactions with the president – and even had a friend share their contents with the media – which gives additional heft to his account.

    Here a few other key takeaways from Thursday’s historic testimony.

    Ever since the New York Times first reported that the president had urged his FBI director to go easy on Michael Flynn, his former campaign aide and short-lived national security adviser, Washington has been anxious to hear Mr Comey’s take. Not from anonymous sources or friends, but from the former director himself.

    It turns out his version is pretty much what had been reported up until now. Somewhere, reporters for the Times and the Washington Post are smiling.

    The former director did take a bit of heat off the president when he noted that he felt he was only being asked to back away from prosecuting Flynn for lying to federal agents about his December conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

    “I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign,” he says.

    The reality, however, was that Flynn was firmly in the crosshairs of the investigation. “He was in legal jeopardy,” Mr Comey said.

    After his conversation with the president, the director said he discussed the issue with his FBI colleagues and notes that the request was “very concerning”.

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  • So we will have to see what Sessions has to say.

    I see Trump has also offered to testify under oath – which could prove interesting, if he is subsequently found to be lying as usual!

    (Off the record deniable threats, and convenient lapses of memory, are well known tools of disreputable governments and politicians!)

    US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will appear before a Senate panel in response to James Comey’s testimony.

    He will appear before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, he announced in a letter.

    He said the decision had been made “in light of Mr Comey’s recent testimony”.

    Former FBI director Mr Comey told the panel this week that he had asked Mr Sessions to “prevent any future direct communication between the president and me”.

    He had been due to appear before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on Tuesday. He said in the letter deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein would attend instead.

    Mr Sessions removed himself from the FBI’s inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election back in March after it emerged he had met Moscow’s envoy during last year’s White House race.

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  • Meanwhile despite persistent assertions, and Trump’s habit of making gratuitous appeals to the courts where there are decisions he does not like, apparently judges know the law better than Trump and his “sycophants qualified by presidential appointment”, – White House pseudo-expert advisors:- 🙂

    A US appeals court has upheld a decision blocking President Trump’s revised ‘travel ban’

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  • The Sessions meeting with Congress has just concluded and the only thing I’m any wiser on is just how much of a weasel Sessions is. He didn’t answer a single question other than a couple of softballs from Republicans without prefacing his reply with “I don’t recall” or “I don’t recollect”. Anything to do with Trump he just refused to answer supposedly because of “DOJ Rules” despite it seeming he couldn’t quote those and hadn’t checked through them in preparation for this interview.

    Apparently he doesn’t recollect whether a single other Trump campaign official had any meetings with Russians at all, even the ones the people in question have admitted to. He can’t even recall what he might or might not have talked about with people himself. His memory does however appear rather strangely to be clear on just how much he thought Comey was doing a terrible job for months and months right back into 2016 despite never raising any such points with Comey, despite him telling Fox how good a job he thought Comey had done until suddenly in May this year Comey gets canned.

    Slimey is an adjective that comes to mind with Sessions. That he lied through his teeth was very clear though. He didn’t prepare well enough and got caught out a few times, especially by Harris. One has to wonder though how much of value is coming out of these investigations if they can’t compel people to answer the questions.

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  • Arkrid Sandwich #8
    Jun 13, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Apparently he doesn’t recollect whether a single other Trump campaign official had any meetings with Russians at all,
    even the ones the people in question have admitted to.
    He can’t even recall what he might or might not have talked about with people himself.

    Doesn’t the crystal ball I used two days ago @#6 to predict the future, work miraculously well for reading minds!! 🙂

    @#6 (Off the record deniable threats, and convenient lapses of memory, are well known tools of disreputable governments and politicians!)

    Its amazing how his perceptions of the issues of supervision, confidentiality, and security have progressed since he moved on from being in charge of a campaign!

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    President Donald Trump is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible obstruction of justice, US media reports say.

    They say senior intelligence officials will be interviewed on whether Mr Trump tried to end an inquiry into his sacked national security adviser, and about the firing of FBI chief James Comey.

    Mr Trump tweeted that the move was the latest action in a “phony story”.

    Mr Mueller is leading an FBI inquiry into Russian meddling in the election.

    President Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia.
    On Thursday, he described the ongoing inquiry as a “witch hunt” that was “led by some very bad and conflicted people”.

    The latest development was first carried in the Washington Post. Later the New York Times and Wall St Journal reported the story, citing their own sources.

    The Washington Post says the decision by Mr Mueller to investigate President Trump’s own conduct is a major turning point in the investigation, which until recently focused on the Russian angle.

    Why is the president being investigated?

    The latest media reports say the obstruction of justice investigation began just days after President Trump fired Mr Comey on 9 May.

    Mr Comey, who had been leading one of several Russia inquiries, testified to Congress last week that Mr Trump had pressurised him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

    Mr Flynn was sacked in February for failing to reveal the extent of his contacts with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to Washington.

    Mr Comey testified under oath that Mr Trump had told him during a private meeting: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

    I think we can see “Trump (alternative) logic” here!
    Trump appointees are “Good Guys”, regardless of what they have been up to!
    People who investigate and expose Trump and Trump sycophants, are “very bad and conflicted people”, despite their long standing professional reputations and respect from colleagues!

    Various people are seriously concerned at Trump’s failure to take matters of national security seriously!

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  • The conflicting accounts from Trump do nothing to help any credibility for his claims!
    However, the Wall St Journal quoted a source as saying that Mr Mueller would examine whether Mr Comey’s sacking was an attempt by the president to alter the course of the investigation.

    President Trump said in a TV interview that he had fired the FBI chief because of the “Russia thing”.

    Mr Trump reportedly told Russian officials at an Oval Office meeting a day after sacking Mr Comey that his position had now eased.

    “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off,” Mr Trump said, according to a US official quoted by the New York Times.

    Anything else to be examined?

    The latest reports also speak of an investigation into possible money laundering among Trump associates.

    A former senior official told the New York Times that any collusion between the Trump team and Russian officials would have involved a pay-off, and that there may have been attempts to hide the route of the payments by using offshore banking.

    A separate Washington Post report has said that Mr Coats told associates in March that the president had asked him to try to get the FBI to back off.

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  • As I said some time ago, just keep giving Trump enough rope and he’ll hang himself eventually. It was inevitable that he would burn in the spotlight of media attention like a moth in a flame because he damns himself from his own mouth on a regular basis. What is more sad than that such a person is in the WH is how many Republicans continue to support and enable him. That apparently neither Sessions nor Trump himself have asked for a single briefing on Russian interference in the election or taken any steps to ensure electoral independence from outside interference. People like Gingrich are now trying to smear Mueller rather than put country first and admit that a madman, and possibly a treasonous one at that, is in the Oval Office.

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  • @OP – but then later conceded
    it was because of his handling of the Russia investigation
    and claimed Comey was overseeing a demoralized FBI in disarray.

    Facebook has confirmed that around 5% of the adverts it has identified as having been bought by Russia around the time of the US presidential election also appeared on Instagram.

    The firm has handed over around 3,000 ads to investigators working for the US Congress.

    It said the subject of the ads included immigration issues, gun rights and LGBT topics.

    They focused on “divisive social and political messages”, it said.

    In a blog post, Elliot Schrage, vice-president of policy and communications, wrote that he believed around 10 million people would have seen some of the adverts, but that 25% of them would not have been seen by anybody.

    Virtually all (99%) were bought for less than $1,000 (£760) each, with half of those costing less than $3.

    However around $6,700 was spent on the adverts which appeared on Instagram.

    Facebook has announced changes to the way adverts are signed off, including “additional human review and approval” for some targeted ads.

    It added that many of the adverts it shared with Congress did not violate its policies.

    The US is carrying out a wide-ranging investigation into whether Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

    Google did not directly confirm a report by the Washington Post which claimed that the tech giant had also uncovered advertising bought by suspected Russian agents across its platforms, including YouTube and Gmail, in an attempt to meddle with the election.

    “We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion,” said a spokesperson.

    “We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries.”

    So while Trump remained in denial, it appears the ads. were cheap, plentiful and reaching millions!

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  • It seems like Comey was tracking down serious attempts to pervert the presidential elections – before he was sacked by Trump!

    Google has found evidence that Russian agents spent tens of thousands of dollars on adverts in a bid to sway the 2016 US election, media reports say.

    Sources quoted by the Washington Post say the adverts aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s products including YouTube and Gmail.

    They say the adverts do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-linked source that bought ads on Facebook.

    Google said it was investigating attempts to “abuse” its systems.

    US intelligence agencies concluded earlier this year that Russia had tried to sway the election in favour of Donald Trump.

    The Russian government strongly denies the claims and President Trump has denied any collusion with the Kremlin.

    The issue is under investigation by US congressional committees and the Department of Justice.

    Sources said to be close to the Google investigation said the company was looking into a group of adverts that cost less than $100,000 (£76,000).

    Google said in a statement: “We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion. We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries.”

    Microsoft said on Monday it was also investigating whether any US election adverts had been bought by Russians for its Bing search engine or other products.

    A spokesman told Reuters it had no further information at the moment.

    Facebook said in September that it had uncovered a Russian-funded campaign to promote divisive social and political messages on its network.

    It said that $100,000 was spent on about 3,000 ads over a two-year period, ending in May 2017.

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg later said his company would pass the information to US investigators.

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