Mr Comey has kept quiet about his time under Mr Trump for nearly a year, with the interview and his new book, A Higher loyalty, breaking the silence.
The former lawyer also compares the President to one of the mafia bosses he once fought to prosecute, calling his leadership “ego driven and about personal loyalty”.
Mr Comey was sacked in May 2017, with officials accusing him of mishandling the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of email.
Many Democrats blame his decision to reopen the probe – 11 days before the 2016 election – for Mrs Clinton’s shock defeat.
In the interview, Mr Comey said he assumed Mrs Clinton would win.
He told ABC: “I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out.”
Opponents of the President have suggested Mr Comey was dismissed because he was leading the investigation into alleged links between Mr Trump’s campaign team and Russia.
Mr Trump’s letter firing Mr Comey said he was losing his job on the recommendation of the Attorney General and that he was “not able to effectively lead the Bureau”.
Another former FBI director, Robert Mueller, is now in charge of the ongoing Russia-Trump investigation.
His remit now also includes whether the President obstructed justice when he fired Mr Comey. (SkyNews)
President Donald Trump lashed out at former FBI Director James Comey on Twitter early Friday following the previous day’s dramatic Senate hearing.
Comey, speaking to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning, had harsh words for the White House throughout questioning from lawmakers, saying repeatedly he was very uncomfortable with the president’s requests for loyalty and that the administration lied and defamed him after he was unexpectedly fired in May.
Trump, however, disagreed.
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
His comments echoed remarks made by his lawyer Marc Kasowitz on Thursday.
“It is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications,” Kasowitz said at a press conference. “Mr Comey has now admitted that he is one of the leakers.”
All eyes were on the former director as he spoke about the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Shortly after Comey was fired, the Department of Justice appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel to oversee the investigation, a decision that has reportedly left Trump fuming.
Trump is well-known for his early morning tweetstorms following major news events. He recently unleashed a furious defense of the White House’s second attempt at a travel ban aimed at citizens from six Muslim-majority nations.
“That’s right, we need a travel ban for certain dangerous countries, not some politically correct term that won’t help us protect people!” he wrote. (Huffpost)
Former FBI Director James Comey will confirm past reports that Donald Trump pressured him to drop investigations related to an ongoing probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, according to prepared testimony.
Mr Comey’s prepared testimony appears to confirm past reports based upon memos that the former FBI director wrote about his interactions with the President, including a January dinner between the two when Mr Trump asked him if he wanted to stay on in his post as director before demanding loyalty.
In other interactions between the two in February, the President pressured Mr Comey to drop an FBI investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign from his post a day earlier and less than a month into the presidency amid concerns about his contacts with Russians.
“I hope you can see your way clear to let this go, to let Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Mr Trump said to Mr Comey during that Valentines Day dinner, according to the testimony. Mr Comey didn’t say that he would drop it.
Mr Comey immediately prepared unclassified memos about his conversations with the President regarding Mr Flynn and had thought the request was concerning. After a call with FBI leadership, Mr Comey determined that it was important to try and avoid being alone with the President – he wrote that he was concerned that there was nobody who could corroborate that initial interaction regarding Mr Flynn – and later asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to restrict any further one-on-one meetings between the President and himself. The attorney general did not reply to that request.
The two would speak twice more before Mr Trump abruptly fired the former FBI director, according to the testimony.
In a late March phone call, Mr Trump repeatedly complained that the Russia probe was creating “a cloud” that made it very hard for him to perform his duties as president, and asked that Mr Comey to tell people that he was not investigating the President specifically. Mr Comey told Mr Trump that FBI protocol is to not make that information public because it would create an obligation to correct the record publicly if the probe ended up including the President.
“He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud,'” Mr Comey’s testimony reads. “I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, nd that there would be a great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.”
During a final phone call between the two, Mr Trump asked why Mr Comey hadn’t gotten the word out that the President wasn’t personally being investigated, to which Mr Comey said that he had sent the request along to the Justice Department but hadn’t heard back. Mr Trump indicated that he would also ask the Justice Department to release that information, to which Mr Comey said that was the appropriate process for the request.
Mr Comey’s testimony in front of the Senate has become one of the most anticipated hearings in modern political history. The former FBI director was fired abruptly by the President, and reportedly learned about his ouster during a speech in California when he glimpsed the news playing on television. Following his firing, leaks detailing the information now corroborated by Mr Comey’s testimony began to trickle out, leading to outrage in Washington and concerns that Mr Trump’s actions constituted obstruction of justice. (The Independent)
WASHINGTON — President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.
“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.
The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.
In a statement, he said that Mr. Comey had put unnecessary pressure on the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy with Russia on matters such as Syria, Ukraine and the Islamic State.
“By grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions, James Comey created unnecessary pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with Russia,” Mr. Spicer said. “The investigation would have always continued, and obviously, the termination of Comey would not have ended it. Once again, the real story is that our national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations.”
A third government official briefed on the meeting defended the president, saying Mr. Trump was using a negotiating tactic when he told Mr. Lavrov about the “pressure” he was under. The idea, the official suggested, was to create a sense of obligation with Russian officials and to coax concessions out of Mr. Lavrov — on Syria, Ukraine and other issues — by saying that Russian meddling in last year’s election had created enormous political problems for Mr. Trump.
The president has been adamant that the meddling did not alter the outcome of the race, but it has become a political cudgel for his opponents.
Many Democrats and some Republicans have raised alarms that the president may have tried to obstruct justice by firing Mr. Comey. The Justice Department’s newly appointed special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, was given the authority to investigate not only potential collusion, but also related allegations, which would include obstruction of justice.
The F.B.I.’s investigation has bedeviled the Trump administration, and the president personally. Mr. Comey publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation in March, telling Congress that his agents were investigating Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the presidential election and whether anyone in the Trump campaign had been involved. Mr. Trump has denied any collusion and called the case a waste of money and time.
At first, the White House said Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey based on the recommendation of the Justice Department, and because of Mr. Comey’s handling of the F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton last year. Officials said it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation.
But the president undercut that argument a day later, telling NBC News, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” (The New York Times)
WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.
“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.
The existence of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia.
Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence an ongoing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of the memo to a Times reporter.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.
Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, only replying: “I agree he is a good guy.”
In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.
“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”
In testimony to the Senate last week, the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.”
A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.
Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”
The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial ties to Russia and Turkey.
Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.
Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.
After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.
Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.
The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the ongoing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an investigation into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.
The Oval Office meeting occurred a little more than two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner in the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.
In a Twitter posting on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”
After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.
The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls. (The New York Times)
One day after the acting attorney general warned the White House that its national security adviser was subject to blackmail, the president summoned the FBI director to dinner at the White House, people close to James Comey told NBC News.
At the Jan. 27 dinner, a week after assuming the presidency, Trump requested a loyalty pledge from Comey, people familiar with the dinner say. Comey replied that he could not offer loyalty, but he could pledge his honesty.
This account of the dinner contradicts the one President Trump gave to NBC News Nightly anchor Lester Holt on Thursday. Trump said Comey requested the meeting, asked to be retained in his job, and told him he was not under investigation.
James Clapper, who retired in January as director of national intelligence, told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that Comey told him on the night of the dinner the president had invited him — and he was uneasy about it.
“He mentioned that he had been invited to the White House to have dinner with the president and he was uneasy with that,” Clapper said, adding that Comey didn’t want to create “the appearance of compromising the integrity of the FBI.”
Clapper said it would have been inappropriate and out of character for Comey to have asked for job security, or to have told the president anything about a pending criminal investigation.
It’s not known whether the men talked about national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI a few days before, on Jan. 24 — grilled about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had told the White House counsel that Flynn lied to White House officials about his talks with Kislyak — and that as a result, Vice President Mike Pence had misled the American people.
Yates was soon fired for refusing to enforce Trump’s travel ban. Now Comey has been removed, sparking a host of new questions. Trump suggested, in an exclusive interview Thursday with Holt, that he had the FBI’s Russia collusion investigation on his mind when he decided to remove Comey.
“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,'” Trump said.
Trump gave Holt an entirely different account of the dinner, saying that Comey requested it to seek job security, and told the president he was not under investigation. None of that is true, Comey’s associates insist.
A former senior FBI official said Comey would never have told the president he was not under investigation — contradicting what Trump said.
“He tried to stay away from it [the Russian-ties investigation],” said the former official, who worked closely with Comey and keeps in touch with him. “He would say, ‘Look sir, I really can’t get into it, and you don’t want me to.'”
A current FBI official and others close to Comey confirmed that the director did not request the one-on-one dinner, which happened at the White House a few days after Trump was sworn in.
In his interview with Holt on Thursday, Trump said twice that he believed Comey requested the dinner. Trump said Comey asked that Trump keep him on as FBI director, and told the president on three occasions that he was not under investigation as part of the FBI’s inquiry into Russian election interference.
“The president is not correct,” the former official said. “The White House called (Comey) out of the blue. Comey didn’t want to do it. He didn’t even want the rank and file at the FBI to know about it.”
But in the end, “He’s still the commander-in-chief. He’s your boss. How do you say no?”
President Trump Hosts The Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers And First Responders Reception At The White House
Many current and former FBI officials interviewed by NBC News said the bureau was reeling from the Comey firing. Not everyone agreed with each Comey decision, but he was a popular and well-regarded director, they said.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Thursday that she had heard from “countless members of the FBI who are grateful for the president’s decision.”
US President Donald Trump has insisted he is not under investigation, while dismissing the FBI director he fired as a “showboat” and “grandstander”.
Mr Trump also told NBC News it was his decision alone to sack James Comey.
Mr Comey was leading an inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Moscow.
Mr Trump has dismissed the probe as a “charade”, a claim directly contradicted by Mr Comey’s successor.
In his first interview since firing the FBI director, Mr Trump told NBC News on Thursday he had asked Mr Comey whether he was under investigation.
“I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, ‘Am I under investigation?’ He said: ‘You are not under investigation.'”
“I know I’m not under investigation,” Mr Trump told the interviewer, repeating a claim he made in Tuesday’s letter of dismissal to Mr Comey.
The president also appeared to undercut the initial White House explanation that he fired Mr Comey on the recommendation of top justice officials.
“He’s a showboat. He’s a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. I was going to fire Comey. My decision,” Mr Trump said.
“I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
Mr Trump recently tweeted that the Russia-Trump collusion allegations were a “total hoax”.
But on Thursday he denied that he wanted the FBI and congressional inquiries to stop.
“In fact, I want the investigation speeded up,” the president told NBC.
“There’s no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians,” he said.
Mr Trump said he had just sent a letter via a law firm to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stating that he has no stake in Russia.
“I have nothing to do with Russia,” he said. “I have no investments in Russia. I don’t have property in Russia. I’m not involved with Russia.”
On Thursday afternoon Mr Trump retweeted a five-month-old post by comedienne Rosie O’Donnell, his arch-foe in the world of entertainment.
The White House has depicted the Russia inquiry as “probably one of the smallest things” that the FBI has “got going on their plate”.
But acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe said on Thursday that it was “a highly significant investigation”.
In testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he also cast doubt on White House claims that Mr Comey had lost the confidence of his staff.
“I can confidently tell you that the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection to Director Comey,” Mr McCabe said.
The acting FBI director vowed not to update the White House on the status of the investigation and to notify the Senate panel of any attempt to interfere with the inquiry.
Republican committee chairman Richard Burr asked Mr McCabe if he had ever heard Mr Comey tell Mr Trump the president was not the subject of investigation.
Mr McCabe said he could not comment on an ongoing inquiry.
The acting FBI director did not confirm reports that Mr Comey had asked for more resources for the agency’s Russia inquiry.
Mr McCabe said he believed the FBI had sufficient funding to conduct the probe.
Rosenstein’s way out – Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who penned a memo detailing Mr Comey’s “serious mistakes” – brought a reputation for even-handedness and probity with him to the job of deputy attorney general. Two weeks later, that reputation is being put to the test.
Such is life in the Trump White House, where every appointee and aide is just one tweet, event or press conference away from the maelstrom.
On Tuesday night, as the administration press shop scrambled to explain the president’s surprise decision to sack his FBI director, Trump supporters leaned hard on Mr Rosenstein’s credentials to paint the move as a nonpartisan decision based on Mr Comey’s overall job performance.
The deputy attorney general reportedly balked at the characterisation that he was the driving force behind Mr Comey’s dismissal, however.
Mr Rosenstein’s threat to resign is different than actually packing bags, of course, and his fate at this point is still tethered firmly to the president he chose to serve.
There is a way out, though. Due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal on the matter, it’s Mr Rosenstein’s call whether to appoint a special counsel to head the Justice Department’s Russia investigation. It may be the one card he can play to sidestep the growing frenzy that spins around him.
At the centre of the storm – Rod Rosenstein
52-year-old Harvard graduate confirmed by US Senate as Deputy Attorney General on 25 April
Had strong bipartisan backing with 94-6 vote in his favour
Overseeing federal investigation of alleged Russian interference in November’s elections, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself over meetings with Moscow’s envoy in Washington
Appointed by President George W Bush as US attorney in Maryland and kept on by President Barack Obama