Minute by Minute: Comey's Testimony

June 08, 2017 02:31 PM

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday. Here's how it went down in real-time.

11:37 a.m. - Sen. John McCain, Republican of Arizona, questioning


McCain asked if Comey was aware of anything that would lead the former FBI director to believe that information exists that could "coerce or blackmail" members of the Trump administration.

"That's not a question I can answer," Comey said.

11:10 a.m.

Comey was asked if Trump's asking him to back off of investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn amounted to obstruction of justice.

"I don't know. Thats (Special Counsel) Bob Mueller's job to sort this out," Comey said.

11:05 a.m.

Ousted FBI Director James Comey says if President Donald Trump recorded their conversations, he hopes the president will "release all the tapes."

Comey is being asked about the possibility that Trump may have recorded their conversations. The president alluded to that possibility in a tweet after he fired Comey in May.

Comey says in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony that he hopes there are tapes, adding the president should "release all the tapes." He says he's "good with it."

11:00 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says if FBI agents knew the president had asked him to drop an investigation into the former national security adviser, it would have a "real chilling effect" on their work.

Comey says he decided not to tell agents working on the Russia investigation about what he perceived to be a request from the president to drop the probe into Michael Flynn.

Comey says even as good as the agents are, hearing that the president asked for this could be detrimental. He says, "that's why we kept it so tight."

Related: Twitter Latches on to Comey's 'Lordy' Quote During Hearing

10:47 a.m. 

Sen. James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma, indicates the committee would request copies of all of Comey's notes regarding his meetings with President Trump. 

10:41 a.m.

Comey said that in regard to the dinner with Trump in which he was asked for his loyalty to the president, Trump called to invite the former director to dinner. Specifically, that he should come for dinner at 6:30.

Comey said in the hearing that meant he had to break a date with his wife.

"I love spending time with my wife, and I wish I would have been with her that night," Comey said.

When asked by Sen. Angus King, Independent of Maine, whether he ever called Trump to ask for a meeting, as Trump had suggested in an interview, Comey said he had never initiated a phone call with the president.

RELATED: Comey Says He was Fired Because of Russia Investigation

10:24 a.m. - Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, questioning.

Collins asked Comey whether he ever shared a memo following a meeting with Trump with anybody outside of anybody at the DOJ?

Comey said he did, after learning of the possiblity that the White House meeting was taped. He said he didn't want to deliver the memo himself to a reporter, so he asked a friend, "a good friend who's a law school professor at Columbia University," to deliver his notes to a reporter in the idea that the revelation could lead to a special prosecutor for the Russia investigation.  

He said career officials in the Justice Department had been urging Sessions to step aside from the probe. Sessions did so in March, after it was revealed that he twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Sessions failed to disclose those contacts when pressed by Congress during his confirmation hearing.

RELATED: Local Lawmakers React to Comey Testimony

10:15 a.m. - 

Comey says he didn't announce that Trump was not personally under investigation because "it creates a duty to correct, which I've lived before."

That's a reference to the investigation into Hillary Clinton emails when Comey said late in the 2016 presidential campaign that the FBI was further investigating the case.

Comey is explaining in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony why he was reluctant to announce that Trump was not under investigation.

He says he wrestled with the decision but said he didn't want to say it publicly because it would create a "duty to correct, which I've lived before and you have to be really careful doing that."

10:08 a.m. - Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, questioning.

Wyden asked when and what Comey knew about Sessions' Russia ties.

"Our judgement was he was close to or going to recuse for a variety of reasons" that Comey said he couldn't discuss in an open session. He added FBI officials were aware of facts that would make Sessions' continued involvement in a Russian investigation problematic.

9:53 a.m. - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, questioning

Feinstein asked Comey why he believed he was fired by the president.

- "I don't know for sure," Comey said. He added that he took the president at his word in interviews following the incident. "Something about the way I was conducting (the Russia investigation) created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve."

Feinstein asked Comey if the Trump had asked follow-up questions after the firing. 

- "We never spoke again after April 11," Comey said.

Feinstein asked Comey about his colleagues' response to the president asking him to stop the investigation.

- "I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was." 

Comey added he and his colleagues debated what to do with the information, noting that they wrestled with it as leaders of the bureau. The conversations circulated around whether they should share the president's request with the Department of Justice.

Comey said leaders decided it was paramount that they not share that information with the bureau's investigative team working on the probe. At the same time, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions making rumblings about recusing himself from any Russia-related probe, Comey and other FBI leaders decided they would sit on the information rather than deliver to the DOJ at that time. 

9:38 a.m. - Vice Chairman Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, questioning

Comey said the decision to document the nine meetings occurring with President Trump was "difficult," but that "I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meetinhs." Comey said that to document the meetings was integral in protecting the integrity of the FBI and the investigation into Russian meddling.

Comey said that in two meetings with former President Obama and one with former President Bush, he never felt the need to document conversations. 

ABC NEWS Live Updates on Comey Testimony

9:25 a.m. - Committee Chair Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, questioning.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, asked Comey if he had any doubt Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections, including with direct knowledge by members of the Russian Government?

- "No," was Comey's response. He did say that by the time he left his post at the FBI, he had no indication that any American vote with regard to the 2016 election had been altered.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


Michael Oakes

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