Comey accuses White House of trying to stifle Russia probe

Lies, loyalty and leaks.


James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee has touched on those subjects and more during almost three hours of questioning.

The former head of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation was fired soon after launching an investigation into the former national security adviser’s links with Russia.

He says he thinks that probe into General Michael Flynn probably helped seal his fate.

“There’s no doubt that … It’s a fair judgment – it’s my judgment – that I was fired because of the Russia investigation, I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavour was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal, and not just because it involves me. The nature of the FBI and the nature of its work requires that it not be the subject of political consideration. And on top of that, you have the Russia investigation itself is vital, because of the threat.”

Speculation over ties between Russia and the Trump administration has persisted since claims of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign first surfaced.

Mr Comey says he and the entire intelligence community believe Russia did intervene in the poll.

He says suggestions he lost his position for any other reason are “lies, plain and simple.”

The former public servant also admitted leaking details of private conversations with the President in an effort to prompt the appointment of a special counsel to lead the investigation.

Speaking after the testimony, President Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, says the revelation destroys Mr Comey’s credibility.

“Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration. And from before this president took office to this day, 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. Mr Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”

Mr Comey has avoided accusing President Trump of trying to obstruct justice, a potentially impeachable offence.

But he confessed his fears Mr Trump might lie about their meetings prompted him to keep records of them.

He says his apprehension was due to the sensitive subject matter as well as the then newly elected president himself.

At the same time Mr Comey was speaking, Donald Trump was giving his own speech at a conference of evangelical supporters.

He has promised he will keep fighting.

“And, as you know, we’re under siege. You understand that. But we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You watch. You fought hard for me, and now I’m fighting hard for all of you. I have one goal as president, to fight for the American people and to fight for America and America first. We are winners, and we are going to fight and win and have an unbelievable future, unbelievable future, and it’s going to be together.”

The testimony was a highly anticipated event, with many restaurants and bars holding special viewing parties for the public.