Trump dodges tapes question, denies seeking Comey 'loyalty'

In stunning public testimony Thursday, James Comey acknowledged arranging for a friend to leak details of a conversation Comey had with President Trump - the February 14 Oval Office encounter in which Trump said he hoped the FBI director could "drop" the bureau's investigation of fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to Comey's contemporaneous notes. He has publicly defended Trump amid the Russian Federation firestorm, including following fired FBI Director James Comey's testimony on Capitol Hill.

"So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that-" the reporter said, referring to the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, investigation Russia's interference in the US election.

"When it comes from the president, I took it as a direction", Comey said. "Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction", Trump said.

Though Trump has lambasted Comey as a "leaker", he also claimed "total and complete vindication" following the ex-FBI chief's testimony, focusing on Comey's confirmation that Trump was not personally being probed.

Trump reportedly told his legal team "I was right", after watching 45 minutes of Comey's testimony with his lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday, according to The New York Times.

When asked if he really did have tapes of his conversations with Comey as he'd alluded to in a tweet published last month, President Trump declined to confirm or deny their existence.

If either Trump's testimony or memos written by Comey about his conversations with the president turn out to be untrue, either man could be charged with lying to federal investigators. Comey said there would be a duty to correct his statements if Trump became the subject of the probe.

Early this week former House speaker and Trump strategist Newt Gingrich said the president is "infuriated at a deep-gut, personal level that the elite media has tolerated [the Russian Federation story] and praised Comey".

"I'll tell you about that maybe in the very near future", he said.

Former FBI Director James Comey's testimony raked in 19.5 million viewers on average during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, according to Nielsen data- topping viewership for Game 3 of the National Basketball Association finals the night before.

Reporter: [Comey] did say, under oath, that you told him to let the Flynn. that you hoped the Flynn investigation would go away.

"As you know, we're under siege, you understand that, but we will come out bigger, better and stronger than ever", he said. Admiral Rogers testified that the President never "directed [him] to do anything. illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate" and never "pressured [him] to do so". John McCain, R-Ariz., who wanted to know why Comey wouldn't publicly clear Trump of wrongdoing even though he had done so for Hillary Clinton.

The Trump administration fired Comey in early May, citing his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

The president had previewed his attacks against Mr Comey in an early-morning tweet that broke his previous day's silence on his favorite social media megaphone.

If President Trump did secretly record his private White House meetings, he didn't enlist the Secret Service to help.

The friend was later identified as Comey confidant and Columbia law professor Daniel Richman.

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