James Comey Accuses White House Of ‘Lies, Plain And Simple’ –Says Trump Did Not Order Him To Drop The Flynn Investigation

In his opening statement, 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.

“The administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI” Comey said, by claiming the agency was “poorly led.”

“Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey bluntly told the committee.

Watch full testimony:

In a meeting first reported by The New York Times – and confirmed by Mr Comey in his opening statement – the FBI director claims Mr Trump staged a private meeting with him and said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go”.

Mr Comey said on Thursday that he perceived the president’s words as direction and not an order. He clarified that he did not consider this an order to drop the Russia investigation as a whole.