Former FBI Director James Comey says that the White House told lies that defamed him and the FBI following his sudden firing last month.
"Those were lies, plain and simple," Mr Comey said of the White House's allegation that he had lost the faith of the FBI. "The administration chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI."
The former intelligence chief delivered the line in fiery opening statements given during a highly anticipated Senate hearing. Mr Comey continued to say that he regretted not having been able to say goodbye to his former colleagues at the FBI, but that he knew then that his responsibility immediately after being fired was to accept the President's legal power to fire him, with or without reason.
The White House provided several conflicting explanations immediately after Mr Comey was fired last month.
Officials first pointed to a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as rationale behind the decision, and said that Mr Comey had lost the faith of the FBI in 2016 when he decided to publicly comment on an ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. President Donald Trump later said, in a nationally broadcast interview, that he had decided on his own that he needed to fire Mr Comey no matter Mr Rosenstein's opinion, and that the ongoing probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election made up at least a portion of that consideration.
Mr Comey told the Senate that he created records after most, if not all, of his interactions with Mr Trump. He did so because he was concerned that the President would lie about their interactions, and said that he felt that at some point he would need to defend himself and also the FBI. Documenting those interactions was not necessarily a common practise for interacting with presidents, though, and he indicated that he had not written accounts of his past interactions with former President Barack Obama.
The former FBI chief indicated that he did not think Mr Trump had attempted to obstruct justice by asking him to let go of an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, but others who read his written testimony noted that the circumstances were potentially suspect. Mr Flynn was forced to resign less than a month into the Trump presidency after it was discovered that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. Mr Flynn misled Mr Pence, saying that he had not discussed sanctions imposed on Russia for meddling in the 2016 election when he had done so. It has been since discovered that Mr Flynn had further Russia ties, including having received payments from Russian sources.
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