WASHINGTON - Highly anticipated testimony from former FBI Director James Comey was the talk of the town in Washington, Thursday.
Now, let the spin begin.
Democrats say the plot has thickened over why Comey was canned but the White House says President Trump has been vindicated.
Former FBI Director Comey says the Trump administration lied when it said Comey's termination was the result of poor leadership and a loss of confidence among the ranks.
"I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I'm so sorry that the American people were told that," said Comey.
Comey testified President Trump talked to him on several occasions while Comey was investigating alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election.
Comey says during one conversation about National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, President Trump said he hoped Comey would let it go.
"I took it as a direction. He's the president of the United States, with me alone, saying “I hope this…” I took it as this is what he wants me to do. I didn't obey that but that's the way I took it," said Comey.
Comey says he felt the president might lie about what was said during their conversations, so he started documenting their communications.
The President's attorney, Marc Kasowitz says Comey's memos, which Comey indirectly released to the media, prove he's a leaker.
"It is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continues to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers, said Kasowitz."
Kasowitz says Comey's testimony vindicates the president.
"Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told the president privately. The president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference.
Pennsylvania's congressional leaders are divided on Comey's testimony and their reactions span the spectrum.
Here are their quotes in full:
Sen. Pat Toomey:
“Former FBI Director James Comey once again raised questions about whether the president exercised poor judgment in commenting on the investigation into Michael Flynn’s statements in December.
“And Mr. Comey once again raised questions about his own behavior. For example, he gave an implausible explanation for leaking his memo to the media, rather than sharing the memos with the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee.
“The FBI must be led by an apolitical director whom Americans trust and who should be able to conduct investigations free from political influence. I hope we will soon have a new FBI director who fits that bill.”
Sen. Bob Casey:
“Former FBI Director Comey’s testimony detailed very troubling conduct by President Trump. It’s clear that President Trump interfered in the investigation and it’s incumbent upon Special Counsel Robert Mueller to closely examine this matter.”
Congressman Charlie Dent:
“The testimony of former FBI Director James Comey today reinforces the importance of the investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. I hope these investigations will be both prompt and thorough and I look forward to the findings.
One thing was made abundantly clear from today’s hearing, the Russian government purposefully sought to interfere in and influence the 2016 Election in a malicious attempt to undermine our democracy, and this administration and the Congress must take steps to hold them to account.”
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick:
“The American people deserve the facts. With the FBI investigating this matter, that is exactly what the American people will get. My former colleagues at the FBI, who are of the highest professional caliber, will follow the facts wherever they lead and will report those facts with unimpeachable integrity. Jim Comey’s testimony and cross-examination by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a very important piece of the overall investigation. I am grateful for his appearance. I have full faith and confidence in my former colleagues at the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller, who are tasked with continuing the independent, objective mission of fact-finding in this matter.”
Congressman Lou Barletta:
“Comey today confirmed what we already knew to be true: the president is not under investigation, there is no evidence Russia affected any votes in our election. At no time did the president pressure him to end the Russia investigation, and there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. As the investigation continues, we need to focus on the real issues that affect the American people, like protecting our national security and putting Americans back to work.”
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