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LIVE: Fired FBI director James Comey testifies on Trump-Russia in front of Senate intel committee

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Posted at 7:57 AM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 14:57:18-04

Replay former FBI director James Comey's testimony in an open hearing of the Senate intelligence committee regarding the Russia probe and his firing. Click here for the full wrap-up.

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Read Comey's annotated testimony here.

5 things to watch for at Comey's hearing

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LIVE UPDATES (All times Mountain Time):

10:42 p.m.

Comey's open hearing has wrapped up. He will testify in a closed hearing that will follow in front of the same committee, where he is expected to answer some of the questions he couldn't answer in the open hearing. We'll have an updated story on today's open hearing shortly.

10:32 a.m.

President Trump: "We're under siege, you understand that. But we will come out bigger and stronger and better, you watch."

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10:30 a.m.

"I'm not going to sit here and try to interpret the president's tweets," Comey says when again asked about Trump's "tapes" tweet.

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10:27 a.m.

Comey says "there was an explanation" for why he was fired. "I just don't buy it," he says.

Comey says he believes Trump felt he was being pressured and felt irritated by the Russia probe, and that is why he was fired.

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10:22 a.m.

Comey is pressed further on why he didn't call for a special counsel regarding the Clinton email investigation and then-AG Lynch. 

"I knew there was nothing there," Comey said, adding that appointing a special prosecutor would have taken months longer to come to the same conclusion.

But he says that he had concerns over Lynch's involvement and suggested use of the word "matter" instead of "investigation."

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10:21 a.m.

Sen. Cornyn asks Comey: "If you're trying to make an investigation go away, is it a good idea to fire the FBI director?"

"It doesn't make sense to me," Comey says.

10:17 a.m.

White House spokeswoman Sarah H. Sanders says "it's a regular Thursday at the White House."

"I can definitely say the president is not a liar, and frankly, I'm insulted by that question," she said when asked about Comey's testimony that President Trump lied.

She also said she didn't know if there was a White House taping system, and said Trump has "confidence" in Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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10:09 a.m.

The "criminal inquiry" regarding Michael Flynn by DOJ was regarding whether Flynn deceived federal agents or lied.

He says there was no circumstance that led him to want to or believe he'd resign as FBI director this time around. The response came to a question about a 2004 episode in which he nearly resigned.

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10:04 a.m.

When Comey is asked if he believes that Trump colluded with Russia, he says, "It's a question that I don't believe I should answer in an open session."

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10:02 a.m.

When Comey was asked if Trump's conduct rises to the level of obstruction of justice, Comey says, "I don't know. That's Bob Mueller's job to sort out."

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9:59 a.m.

When asked if he believes he would have been fired should Hillary Clinton have been elected, Comey says, "I don't know."

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9:58 a.m.

"Release all the tapes. I'm good with it," Comey says, if Trump actually taped their conversations.

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9:56 a.m.

Comey again says that former Attorney General Lynch asked him to call the Clinton email investigation a "matter" and not an "investigation."

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9:52 a.m.

Comey says there is a "big difference" between the president tweeting about his discontent with the Russia investigation and talking with the FBI director about it.

He also said there have been "many, many" stories regarding Russia -- especially those based off classified information -- that were wrongly reported by media.

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9:49 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Speaker Paul Ryan says FBI director needs to be independent, says Trump unfamiliar with protocol, `just new to this'

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9:46 a.m.

The committee is asking for copies of Comey's memos that were handed to the New York Times and to the special counsel, indicating they don't have them.

He said "I think so" when asked if his friend still had copies.

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9:40 a.m.

Comey says he wrote his unclassified memos for his own personal recollection and that they weren't intended to be government documents.

He says he leaked the memos to the media through his friend to avoid giving it straight to the media themselves, who were camped out at the end of his driveway, he says.

He says giving it straight to the media would have been "like feeding seagulls at the beach."

He confirms that he has now turned all of his memos over to the special counsel.

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9:28 a.m.

Comey again asserts that Russia interfered with 2016 election. "There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered with our election," he says. "It's about as un-fake as you can possibly get."

9:26 a.m.

Comey says he shared his memos of his Trump meetings with a friend who is a professor at Columbia Law School. He asked the friend to share the memos with reporters ahead of the special counsel appointment.

These actions came after Trump tweeted about the prospect of "tapes" of his conversations with Comey.

9:12 a.m.

Comey says that there are things related to what was at the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions' impending recusal from the probe that he can't discuss in an open hearing.

He says it was clear to top DOJ brass that Sessions was probably going to recuse himself because Sessions' involvement in the probe might be "problematic" because of "a variety of reasons."

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9:08 a.m.

Sen. Marco Rubio asks if President Trump wanted Comey to relieve pressure on Michael Flynn, not relieve pressure on the entire Russia investigation. Comey says that's how he understood the request.

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9:02 a.m.

Comey says that his top colleagues were as "shocked and troubled" by Trump's request regarding Flynn made to Comey, he says.

He says he wanted to Keep Trump's "directive" to him about Flynn away from the FBI's investigative team, and to "keep it in a box."

But he says that his "view of that changed once the prospect of tapes" came along with Trump's statements.

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8:59 a.m.

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey says of President Trump's assertion there might be tapes of their conversations in the White House.

Comey adds that April 11 was the last time he spoke with the president.

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8:57 a.m.

Comey says he was "so stunned" by Trump's Oval Office conversation regarding Flynn that he didn't know how to approach a response.

"Maybe if I was stronger I would have. I was so stunned by what he said," Comey replied.

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8:52 a.m.

Comey says he "took it as a direction" when President Trump said he "hopes" Comey would let Michael Flynn off regarding the ongoing investigation.

"I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," Comey said.

8:49 a.m.

Comey reaffirms that while he was in charge the FBI, President Trump was never "personally" under investigation.

But he says that the special counsel has warrant to "investigate obstruction."

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8:41 a.m.

Asked about the White House's statements about him after he was fired, Comey says: "Those were lies, plain and simple."

He says that at a dinner and at the Blue Room meeting, Trump asked for his loyalty.

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8:39 a.m.

Comey says that he was "honestly concerned" that President Trump might lie about the nature of their nine meetings, so he started writing memos and notes down after each meeting.

"I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting," he said.

He testified that he believes he wrote notes after each of their nine meetings, or after "almost" all of them.

He also added that he didn't take similar notes after two meetings with President Obama, nor after one meeting with President George W. Bush.

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8:34 a.m.

Comey says he's "sure" that congressional committee investigations will be able to work alongside the special counsel investigation, and praises special counsel Robert Mueller.

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8:31 a.m.

James Comey says the FBI is honest, strong and "always will be independent" in his opening statements.

When asked if he had "any doubt" that Russia interfered in the election, he says "no." But he added that he's confident that no votes were altered.

He says, when asked if President Trump tried to halt the Russia investigation, "not to my understanding."

He didn't say if Trump asking to drop Russia probe was obstruction, but says it was "disturbing," and for the special counsel to decide.

He added that "criminal" matters may have been uncovered during the Russia investigation that were not directly related to the investigation.

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8:26 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Comey: Trump administration chose to 'defame' me and FBI using 'lies, plain and simple'

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8:16 a.m.

Sen. Mark Warner, the chair of the SSCI and a Virginia Democrat, starts the hearing by recapping the Russia scandal and probe, and calls Comey's prepared testimony on the matters "very disturbing."

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In a hugely anticipated hearing, fired FBI director James Comey will recount a series of conversations with President Donald Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.

The testimony , Comey's first public statements since his May 9 dismissal, is likely to bring hours of uncomfortable attention to an administration shadowed for months by an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Comey's account of demands for loyalty from the president, and of requests to end an investigation into an embattled Trump adviser, are likely to sharpen allegations that Trump improperly sought to influence the FBI-led probe.

Comey's detailed and vivid recollections of his one-on-one conversations with Trump were revealed in seven pages of prepared testimony released Wednesday, the day before his appearance before the Senate intelligence committee.

He'll testify under oath that Trump repeatedly pressed him for his "loyalty" and directly pushed him to "lift the cloud" of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign's Russia ties.

The remarks paint a picture of an FBI director so disconcerted by his interactions with the president that he began keeping written memos of their private discussions, including one he hastened to type out in an FBI vehicle immediately after a Trump Tower meeting.

He'll tell lawmakers he believed the president was trying to create a "patronage relationship" with him and describe in detail an Oval Office meeting in which Trump urged him not to investigate ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials.

But the ex-FBI director also will validate Trump's assertion that he was not personally a target of the federal counterintelligence investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russia. Comey says he did offer the president that "assurance," but resisted Trump's appeals to make that information public.

"The FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change," Comey says in the prepared remarks.

Trump's personal lawyer said Trump was cheered by the testimony.

"The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the president was not under investigation in any Russian probe," attorney Marc Kasowitz said in a statement. "The president feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda."

Comey has not spoken publicly since he was abruptly fired by Trump on May 9. His dismissal, four years into a 10-year term, fueled claims Trump's ultimate aim was to quash the investigation and obstruct justice, potentially a federal crime or an impeachable offense. Some legal experts said Comey's account could bolster such a case.

Ryan Goodman, a professor at New York University School of Law, said Trump's efforts to protect Flynn provide "strong evidence" of obstruction of justice. However, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, said that while Trump's dealings with Comey were inappropriate, "We do not indict people for being boorish or clueless."

The ex-FBI director's testimony recounts his conversations with the apparent precision of a veteran lawman. Comey notes he had nine one-on-one interactions with Trump over a four-month stretch, compared to two private conversations with President Barack Obama between September 2013 and the end of 2016. He also says he did not keep written memos of his interactions with Obama.

The first meeting with Trump after the inauguration occurred on Jan. 27, during a private dinner at the White House that Comey came to view as an attempt by the president to "create some sort of patronage relationship."

According to Comey, Trump asked if he wanted to remain as FBI director and declared: "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty." Comey says he replied that he could offer his honesty, and that when Trump said he wanted "honest loyalty," Comey paused and said, "You will get that from me."

Comey also describes at length a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office in which he believed Trump asked him to back off an investigation into Flynn.

"He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,'" Comey says, according to the prepared remarks. He says he believed the president was talking only about Flynn, not about the broader Russia probe.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she was unsure if the president read Comey's testimony after its release. Asked whether the president stood by earlier assertions that he had neither sought Comey's loyalty nor asked for the Flynn investigation to be dropped, she said: "I can't imagine the president not standing by his own statement."

Sen Mark Warner of Virginia, senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said in prepared testimony released early Thursday: "I do want to emphasize what is happening here — the president of the United States is asking the FBI director to drop an ongoing investigation into the president's former National security advisor.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced that he planned to nominate Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official, as Comey's successor.

Trump allies have raised questions about Comey's credibility ahead of his testimony, noting that the FBI had to correct some of his remarks from his last appearance on Capitol Hill. They've also questioned why Comey did not raise his concerns about Trump publicly or resign.

Comey's prepared testimony does not full answer that question, though he does say he asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to help prevent him having any direct communication with the president in the future.

Trump has repeatedly cast the Russia investigation as a "hoax" and denied having any improper ties to Moscow. According to Comey, Trump was acutely aware of the political toll of the investigation, complaining that the probe had left a "cloud" that was "impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country."

In a phone call on March 30, Comey says, the president asked him what could be done to "lift the cloud." He says Trump also volunteered that "he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia" — referencing an unverified intelligence dossier detailing compromising information Moscow had allegedly collected on Trump.