Former FBI Director James Comey offers testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee about his conversations with U.S. President Donald Trump concerning Trump's ties to Russia on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on June 8th, 2017. [Photo: Imagine China]
In a highly anticipated U.S. Senate hearing on Thursday, former FBI director James Comey said he was fired because of the agency's investigation into possible Russian interference in the U.S. election last November.
Comey, who made his first public appearance since he was fired almost a month ago, explored the reasons behind the sudden move taken by President Donald Trump.
"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 endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted," said Comey.
He acknowledged that the President had on a number of occasions asked for his loyalty and once had hoped he would drop the investigation of the President's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
"I took it as a direction. I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying, 'I hope this.' I took it as, this is what he wants me to do," said Comey.
The former FBI chief accused the Trump administration of defaming him and the FBI following his abrupt firing and said statements made by the administration were lies, plain and simple.
He also explained why he took notes of his encounters with President Trump, saying that he was concerned that the President may lie about the nature of their meetings.
"I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the independence of our investigative function," said Comey.
The former FBI chief also disclosed that he had asked a friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak his memos to a reporter. He thought such a move might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
However, Senator Marco Rubio pointed out that the only thing in this whole investigation that was not leaked was the fact that the President was not personally under investigation.
But he was also questioned by senators from both sides on why he did not stop the President and tell him that his comments and requests were inappropriate.
"Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in," said Comey.
So far, President Trump has kept unusually silent during and after the hearings. But his lawyer Marc Kasowitz held a news conference to fire back, saying Comey's testimony proved that the President did not collude with Russia during last year's election.
The lawyer also denied a couple of accusations the former FBI director had made during the hearing.
"The President never, suggested that Mr. Comey, quote, let Flynn go, close quote," said Kasowitz.
"The President also never told Mr. Comey, quote, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty, close quote," added Kasowitz.
He also accused Comey of leaking unauthorized information to the media.
The two-day-long senate hearing is now closed. But it may be some time before the truth is out.