James Comey Testifies Before Congress

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP/CBS News) — Former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress Thursday, nearly a month after President Donald Trump fired him.

Vic Carter will lead coverage of the testimony from Washington, D.C. tonight on WJZ.

During the hearing, despite the president’s claims that Comey was fired because of the way the Hillary Clinton email investigation was handled, Comey said “…I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him.”

Comey also echoed the seven-page opening remark that he released ahead of the hearing on Wednesday, saying he was concerned Donald Trump would “lie” about the nature of his first conversation with him. (Read Comey’s remarks in full by clicking here.)

Comey says Trump’s behavior was new to him and led him to think, “I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way.”

In those pre-released remarks, Comey goes on to detail some of the contents of “nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone.”

In one of these conversations, Comey claims Trump said of former national security adviser Michael Flynn: “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.”

During his testimony, Comey said he took that remark “as a direction,” and noted that it came during a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States.

Comey steered clear of giving his opinion about whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice when speaking to him about the Flynn investigation.

Asked if the request rises to obstruction of justice, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee that he didn’t know and that it would be special counsel Robert Mueller’s job to sort that out.

Earlier in his testimony, Comey said he doesn’t think it would be fair for him to say whether the conversation he had with the president was an effort to obstruct the FBI probe into Russian activities during the election.

Comey said he found the president’s request “very disturbing.”

President Donald Trump has so far stayed off Twitter during and after the testimony, though his eldest son has not.

Donald Trump Jr., who along with his brother Eric are now at the helm of their father’s New York-based business, posted repeatedly during the closely watched testimony Thursday.

He repeatedly defended his father and attacked Comey.

Trump Jr. in particular seized on Comey’s assertion that he interpreted the president’s statement that he “hoped” the FBI would drop its probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump Jr. tweeted “you would think a guy like Comey” would know the difference between “hoping and telling.”

President Trump was not so silent on Twitter immediately following Comey’s firing.

Three days afterwards, the president tweeted that Comey should hope there are “no tapes” of their conversations.

During testimony, Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” and said he would be OK with them being released if they exist.

Comey also admitted to asking a friend to leak the contents of his memo about meetings with President Trump after the president tweeted about tapes.

He says he felt that releasing the details of his private conversations with the president might prompt the appointment of a special counsel in the case.

Comey says the contents of the memo were released to a reporter by a close friend of his who is a professor at Columbia law school.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz made a statement following Comey’s testimony.

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(TM and Copyright 2017 CBS and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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