Former FBI Director James Comey used his opening statement in a Senate committee Thursday to take a shot at President Donald Trump.
Comey said Trump had called into question his integrity and the integrity of the FBI, and in doing so had lied to the American people.
“I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn’t make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made,” Comey said in his opening remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee. “That didn’t make any sense to me. And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI, by saying that the organization was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.”
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey added, describing the FBI as “honest,” “strong,” and “independent.”
Though Comey’s prepared statement was published to the committee website on Wednesday, Comey’s opening statement Thursday was not from that document. The published statement included Comey’s notes on every one-on-one meeting he had with Trump since Trump was elected president. Those notes said Trump had demanded loyalty from Comey and had asked him to “let go” of the probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey said he took those notes after every private meeting with Trump due to both the subject matter of the conversation and because he was “honestly concerned (Trump) might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
Trump fired Comey in early May, as Comey led an investigation into whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The Trump administration originally said Comey was fired due to mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.