Trump and aides turn their fire on former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey

Trump and aides turn their fire on former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey

Comey, who testified before a Senate committee on Thursday, asserted that President Donald Trump had fired him to interfere with an investigation of Russia's ties to the Trump campaign and reaffirmed the intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation meddled in the election.

Recounting a February 14 White House meeting where Trump pressed the director to drop the FBI's inquiry into national security adviser Michael Flynn, Comey said a decision was made not to report the incident to Sessions.

In sworn testimony to the Senate on Thursday, Comey painted Trump as untrustworthy and admitted he asked a "friend", identified as a Columbia University law professor, to release a memo of his conversations with the president to the press.

"Trump won't rule out his previous claim that there may be tapes of his conversations with Comey".

Trump was publicly silent while Comey testified on Thursday, but tweeted Friday an accusation that Comey - whom Trump fired in May - lied under oath.

The attorney is expected to file a complaint with the Justice Department inspector general about the revelation next week, according to a person close to the legal team who agreed to speak before the filing on condition that the person's name is not used.

Comey confirmed what Trump had said when he fired the FBI director last month: Comey had told the president on three different occasions that he wasn't the target of a criminal investigation.

Back in March, Sessions stepped aside from overseeing a federal investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign after he acknowledged meeting twice previous year with the Russian diplomat, Sergey Kislyak. Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, responded to Comey's written testimony: "The president feels completely and totally vindicated". "The president has the authority to tell the director of the FBI to stop an investigation".

"I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct", Comey testified.

The White House has repeatedly tried to shift the focus away from the content of Comey's allegations and onto the manner of their release.

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes", Comey said, suggesting such evidence would back up his account over the president's.

The Senate and House Intelligence Committees will continue to sift through raw intelligence materials, and interview witnesses, behind closed doors in secure rooms. Preet Bharara is one the 46 public preosecutors who were ordered by US President Trump to immediately resign.

Mr Trump tweeted earlier on Friday he felt "complete vindication" after the hearing.

"Comey lifted the veil on his motivations", said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

"I'll tell you about it over a short period of time".

During much of the increasingly heated debate surrounding the FBI's investigation of Russia's role in the election, Trump has chafed over news leaks, arguing that news organizations had not given them proper attention.

"This whole thing is a giant nothing-burger", the conservative web site Breitbart News wrote as Comey talked, "except for Comey implicating himself as a leaker".

She described Mr Comey's testimony as "candid" and "thorough" and said she would support a subpoena if needed.

Chyrons on Fox, where Trump fans dominate the audience, often emphasized news favorable to the president.

Mr Reed said he also wants to know if Mr Sessions had more meetings with Russian officials as a Trump campaign adviser than have been disclosed.

Tapes could resolve the dispute, but Trump against refused to say whether they exist, telling reporters he would do so "maybe sometime in the very near future".

When asked about the alleged loyalty pledge, Trump denied ever having made such a move.

Feinstein also inquired why Comey didn't immediately tell Trump it was wrong to ask about the Flynn investigation. Comey was not saying that the President is someone who tends to be elusive or who uses words in tricky ways, but more fundamentally that he is a person who can't be trusted even in a private meeting with the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

James Comey on Wednesday defended his decision to announce a new investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's emails while staying quiet on the Trump-Russia one prior to the 2016 US elections.

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