In a candid and direct opening statement, former FBI Director James Comey said that the Trump administration “defame[d]” him, the FBI, and lied to the American people.
Comey, who was called to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on matters relating to the FBI’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump administration and the Russian government, told the committee that he was “confused” by the narrative emerging from the White House after his firing. “It confused me when I saw, on television, the President saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. He added that his confusion grew when, after his firing, he “learned again—from the media—that [the President] was telling privately other parties, that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russia investigation.”
Comey said that the confusing and often conflicting timeline offered by the administration, “didn’t make any sense to me.
“The administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI [...] Those were lies, plain and simple,” he said calmly. “I’m sorry the American people were told them,” Comey added.
Comey also worked to reassure the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as the American people, that the FBI remained above the fray. The FBI’s “values and abilities run deep and wide,” Comey said, reiterating that the agency will “relentlessly pursue” its mission. He continued, saying that he had a message for the American people: “The FBI is honest, the FBI is strong, and the FBI is, and always will be, independent.”
Take what you will from Comey’s loyalty and clear belief in the inherent good of the FBI, but note that he might be the first FBI Director to call a sitting president a liar on the record.