by Countable | 6.8.17
Here is a complete recording of former FBI director James Comey's historic testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Also see our blow-by-blow live blog below the video, most recent posts are listed first. Comey discussed his contacts with President Trump about the FBI's investigation into the Trump administration's ties with Russia, and the president's subsequent firing of Comey.
12:45pm: The Senate Intelligence Committee adjourned after a full round of questions from the Senators. Comey continues his testimony in closed, classified session after a brief lunch break. We expect to have reaction from Senators after the closed session is complete. -- Andrea Seabrook
12:40pm: Senator McCain (R-AZ) asked a series of questions about the relationship between the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email servers for official State Department business and the investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. McCain expressed confusion and frustration that Comey had chosen to announce that there "would be no charges filed" against Ms. Clinton as a result of the email investigation when there was an ongoing investigation of the campaign in which she was a candidate. Comey stipulated that they were separate issues-- that the Clinton email server investigation was concluded and that the campaign investigation was ongoing. Therefore, his comments about charges to be filed were only regarding the email server investigation. -- Asha Sanaker
12:32pm: Cornyn also asked if a special counsel should’ve been appointed in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, given the appearance of a conflict of interest between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Clinton campaign. Comey said that he felt while a special counsel could’ve been appointed, he chose not to call for one because he felt it would’ve been unfair because “there was no case there” and it would’ve sent a message that there was a case there. -- Eric Revell
12:30pm: Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) asked Comey if an FBI agent has a legal duty to report a crime if they have reasonable belief one has been committed, to which Comey said he’s unsure that a legal duty exists but that given the FBI’s culture would lead to the expectation it’d be reported. He also asked if firing an FBI Director is a good way to end an investigation, which Comey said “doesn’t make a lot of sense to me” but that he, admittedly, is “hopelessly biased given that I was the one fired.” Comey said his firing wouldn’t impact the continuity of investigations into Russia’s attempt to influence the election, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. -- Eric Revell
Check out this amazing New York Times photo at the start of Comey's testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee:
Senator Harris (D-CA) questioned Comey extensively about the involvement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Russia investigation both before and after his recusal. Comey stated repeatedly that he was not aware of the details of Sessions recusal from the perspective of the Department of Justice. When asked by Harris whether or not it was appropriate for Sessions to be involved in the decision to fire Comey, Comey commented that it was a good question but that he couldn't answer. It would depend on what he did and didn't know about whether or not the decision was based on the Russia investigation. -- Asha Sanaker
Senator Cotton (R-AR) questioned Comey about a February New York Times story headlined, "Trump Campaign Aides had Repeated Contacts with Russian Intelligence." Cotton asked, "would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?" Comey answered, simply, "yes." Cotton went further, asking if, at the time of the article, Comey had any indication of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian authorities, to which Comey replied that he could not discuss that in this public, non-classified setting. -- Asha Sanaker & Andrea Seabrook
12:05pm: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) asked Comey about the severity of Russia’s attempts to influence the election. Comey said it’s a “big deal” when a foreign government looks to interfere with American politics, and that Russia tried to influence the way Americans think, vote, and act. Comey said that they’re coming after America and will continue to do so because “we remain that shining city on a hill” and they don’t like that. Comey reiterated that he hopes tapes of his discussions with Trump exist and that he’d consent to their release if asked, and praised the professionalism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. -- Eric Revell
11:58am: Lankford also asked Comey about Obama era Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking Comey to refer to the FBI’s investigation as being a “matter” rather than an “investigation.” Comey said that concerned him because it gave the impression the Attorney General was inaccurately trying to align the FBI’s terminology with that of the Clinton campaign, which was looking to minimize the story. -- Eric Revell
11:54am: Senator Lankford (R-OK) questioned Comey about the written documents that he used to prepare his written testimony. Comey stated that he was able to review his memos while preparing his statement, but that he had surrendered all of those documents to Special Counsel Mueller. Lankford then questioned whether or not Comey's friend, who provided a memo to the New York Times, might still have that document. Comey said he could not say for sure, but stated that he could, if they did, get it and turn it over to the committee. Lankford was concerned that all related documents make their way to the committee. -- Asha Sanaker
11:50am: Senator Angus King (I-ME) discussed Comey’s dinner meeting with the president, and how Comey had to cancel dinner plans with his wife to attend, to which Comey jokingly replied that “in retrospect, I love spending time with my wife and I wish I’d been there that night.” King continued with a line of questioning about the Flynn investigation, and whether the president saying something along the lines of “I hope..” or “Would you…” would be taken as a directive. Comey responded that it would be, and that it reminded him of Henry II saying “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” the day before the priest (the Archbishop of Canterbury) was killed. -- Eric Revell
11:40am: Senator Blunt (R-MO) noted that on each occasion Comey informed Trump that he wasn’t the target of an investigation, Comey did so without prompting from the president. They also discussed Comey’s dissemination of his memos to the media through a friend, rather than directly to the special counsel. -- Eric Revell
11:37am: Senator Blunt (R-MO) questioned Comey about whether or not he thought that, aside from the Russia investigation, that Comey would still today be the Director of the FBI. He raised issues with Comey not discussing the Flynn conversation with anyone "up the chain". He asked whether or not in hindsight Comey felt that was a mistake. Comey insisted that "inaction was the best thing I could do. -- Asha Sanaker
11:31am: Senator Heinrich (D-NM) asked Comey whether or not the president ever asked what he could do, what the government could do, to protect the American government from hostile aggression by Russia. Comey replied that the president never did. -- Asha Sanaker
11:26am: In response to a question from Senator Collins (R-ME) about whether or not Comey had shown copies of his memo regarding the president to anyone outside of the Department of Justice, Comey said that after the president's tweets about tapes of their meetings he showed the memos to a close friend, a law professor, and asked him to show them to a reporter. -- Asha Sanaker
11:23am: The scene at a bar a half-block from the Senate building where Comey is testifying. -- Matt Laslo
11:20am: Senator Wyden (D-OR) questioned Comey whether or not Vice President Pence was aware of Flynn being compromised while Flynn was the acting NSA director. Comey said he thought yes, based on information from Sally Yates. -- Asha Sanaker
11:11am: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questioned Comey about his conversations with the president extensively. He clarified that there were three things that the president asked of Comey. One, his loyalty. Two, to "let go" of the Mike Flynn thing because "he's a good guy and has been treated unfairly". And three, "Can you please tell the American people what you know and members of Congress already know". Rubio commented that "this whole thing is full of leaks" but somehow the one thing that's never been leaked is that the president was not under investigation. -- Asha Sanaker
11:10am: Washingtonians woke up early to get good seats for the biggest show in town, but it wasn’t just the people who started lining up outside the hearing room at 4:15am – the bars in D.C. filled to the brim early. Capitol Hill’s Union Pub – which is just a stone’s throw from the Senate Hart Office Building where Comey is testifying – is standing room only, in part because they’re offering to buy a free round any time President Donald Trump tweets during the testimony. They’re suffering a problem though: Their liquor license doesn’t allow them to open the patio until 11:30am, so now everyone is elbow to elbow as they clamber to hear the former FBI director make news. -- Matt Laslo
10:55am: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked for Comey's thoughts about why he was fired. "Why didn't you stop and say, 'Mr. President, this is wrong. I can't talk to you about that.'" Comey responded that he was confused by the President's request that Comey ease off on the investigations into Russian connections to the administration. In a tweet several weeks ago, President Trump intimated that there may be tape recordings of those conversations, and today Comey said "Lordie, I hope there are tapes!" -- Andrea Seabrook
10:53am: Comey clarified the conundrum around classified information in the media. "Those that are writing about it don't know what's going on and those that know what's going on aren't talking about it." He clarified for the public that when classified information is discussed in the media and the facts are wrong, no one with classified clearance is going to correct them. He said, "We have to let it lie." -- Asha Sanaker
10:46am: Senator Warner questioned Comey about his sense of the president trying to establish a "patronage relationship". Comey stated, "My common sense told me that he's trying to get something for granting my request to stay in my job." -- Asha Sanaker
10:38am: Ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) began his questions asking about when and why Comey made written records of his direct meetings with President Trump. Comey responded that he believes he recorded notes after each of nine separate meetings with the president. He told the committee, "I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting." -- Andrea Seabrook
10:30am: Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) began the first round of questions by asking Comey about the circumstances surrounding his meetings with President Trump, and drilling down into whether Comey thought the president was intentionally obstructing the FBI's Russia investigation. -- Andrea Seabrook
10:20am: Comey started right away with fireworks -- describing the confusion around his firing, and calling President Trump's assertions that the FBI was under disarray, "Lies. Plain and Simple." Comey appeared to choke-up several times during his opening statement. -- Andrea Seabrook
10:09am: Former Director James Comey has entered the packed hearing room. There are hundreds of reporters and photographers, all shutters clacking and pens poised. Lawmakers have been gathering for 15-20 minutes. Chairman Burr opened by reminding committee members they will have a closed door classified briefing at 1 PM. -- Asha Sanaker
9:57am: The Countable team of writers is here for you! Watch this space as we add live updates throughout the hearing. -- Andrea Seabrook
Written by Countable
I believe the time has come to remember that your solemn oath is to support and defend the constitution - not the Bible, religion or political party. The social contract is fragile and easily destroyed without diligence.
As elected federal representative and senators you will surely be paying close attention to the Comey hearings today. We are in a constitutional crisis because of a president and his staff willing to violate the Constitution and place personal political power over the good of country. Where do you stand on this vital issue?
Let em have it James!
Blow it wide open James! Give trump what he deserves !
Country before party. That will always be the correct decision. Your decision will define you, forever.
Impeach the orange clown
IMPEACH TRUMP!! Rubio stop twisting into something it's not. Trump was never worthy of being President and lacks all attributes required of a President.
I applaud Comey for his thoughtful, credible, and honest testimony. It is clear he is speaking from the heart.
It's time for #RUSSIAGATE to come to an end.
Your sound isn't working rn
Trump needs to go. He is not a honest person
Everything that has come to light so far is completely inappropriate. Moreover, the GOP senators sound like a bad defense attorney at a rape trial. This is a farce that needs to be corrected. Hold Trump accountable. Take it to trial.
45 wasn't being investigated when Comey told 45 that, but he is now and with cause. There is nothing surprising in Comey's testimony. 45 tried to obstruct an active investigation by asking Comey to stop the Flynn probe. 45 asking that question of the former FBI director was no joke and was a directive no matter how some GOP want to frame it. I cannot believe Senator McCain wants to focus on Hillary when we have a current president who is actively obstructing justice. There is no other story of such singular Importance! Please congress, let your fellow congressmen know this is what the majority of Americans care about.
So embarrassed for Comey and the liberal senators. This man just admitted to leaking information and that Lynch pressured him to not charge Clinton. Dude is going to prison!!!
Did John McCain just go full on senile?
I am extremely disappointed that several members of the investigative committee seem to have an agenda of a political nature rather than fact finding. If real questions are not asked and answers reached then Americans will not move past this investigation. No more politics. Ask the hard questions and put the party politics aside. Stop trying to protect anyone in or around the investigation because our democracy is more important than anything or anyone.
America lost a valued asset when Prez Rump fired Director Comey!
Comey is nothing more then a liar and the whole Russian thing is fake.I would not put stock into him telling the truth.He has been known to change up His testimony quite often.
I watched the entire hearing live this morning. I respect and believe Director Comey and you should also. Comey against Trump?! Please. I was disappointed to see unAmerican sellout Tom Cotton on the committee, and frankly concerned about American hero Senator McCain.
I am 60 years old and went through the Cuban Missile Crisis . My father fought in Korean and Vietnam wars . He fought for his family to live under the Constitution and Freedom of the United States . Never have I lived in day to day fear , like I do now . Trump is to dirty to be our President . Not to mention his ignorance.I watched the Comey hearing this morning and not one person acknowledged that Trump was pushing Russia on us during his campaign. Not only his ties to Russia are treason but he has put the United States in a severely dangerous situation . Also knowing our Allies have lost faith in our country .Trump is taking down the USA to hand to Putin on a silver platter . Please take action and save us from this arrogant dictator.