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So what did he say? Well, first, he didn’t read his prepared remarks, which were released Wednesday. (You can find them here.) Instead he jumped right into it. Comey was clearly upset about the way he was fired and was sure to make an issue of it.
“[A]lthough the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director,” he said, “the administration … chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.”
He was asked extensively about the so-called Comey memos, a series of memoranda written after his one-on-one conversations with Donald Trump. When asked why he felt the need for a written record, Comey cited a combination of factors: “the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with.” Specifically Comey said it had to do with “the nature of the person” he was dealing with and, “I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document.”
How did those memos make their way to the public? Comey admitted that, after the President publicly threatened him on Twitter, he was the one who leaked them, by way of a friend of his, Columbia Law School professor Dan Richman. (Although Comey didn’t mention Richman by name during the testimony.) Comey said he leaked the memos in the hope that a special counsel would be appointed to investigate things.
That’s kind of the big deal. Comey claimed that, since he had written them, they were his own personal documents, not government documents, to be shared as he saw fit. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the President. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.” They may come back to bite him and questions are already being raised about whether he broke any laws.
The other big revelation that came out of the hearing is that last year, AG Loretta Lynch ordered Comey to refer to the investigation into Clinton’s email server as “a matter,” instead of an investigation, which matched the Clinton campaign’s own rhetoric. Comey said that he didn’t consider it a hill worth dying on and followed orders. (And it ended up not mattering, since it was reported as an investigation anyway.)
There you have it. Comey testified for just under three hours, starting at 10 am and wrapping up a little before 1 pm. Then in the afternoon, there was a closed-door session where Comey presumably answered all the questions that he couldn’t answer in the open session. (Sorry. We don’t have transcripts or video since it was in camera. Although we wish we did. That would be awesome.)
This is a preview from Friday’s Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.Published in