Comey testifies; Senate committee says more work ahead in probe - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Comey testifies; Senate committee says more work ahead in probe

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WASHINGTON -

1:25 p.m.
    
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee says there's more work ahead in the committee's investigation after hearing testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.
    
Sen. Richard Burr says the committee plans to get together next week with the special counsel who's leading an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
    
Burr says the aim is to work on ways to avoid logistical conflicts with upcoming witnesses and testimony.
    
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1:05 p.m.
    
Former FBI Director James Comey says at the end of his testimony to a Senate committee that he believes he was fired by President Donald Trump in an effort to affect the Russia investigation.
    
Comey says it's a "very big deal and not just because it involves me."
    
He says political considerations shouldn't influence the FBI's work. Comey say that if any American helped Russia in trying to influence the 2016 election, "that is a very big deal."
    
Comey says he's confident an investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller will be conducted thoroughly.
    
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12:55 p.m.
    
James Comey has gone back in history to find an appropriate description for one of his interactions with President Donald Trump.
    
The reference to medieval times has arisen during the former FBI director's appearance before the Senate Intelligence committee.
    
Comey is telling senators about one of his private meetings with Trump. Comey says the president said he hoped that Comey would back off investigating Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
    
Comey says that reminded him of the phrase, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
    
It's a reference to Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, who was killed in 1170. King Henry II was said to have said those words or something similar, which was taken by his men as an order to have Becket killed.
    
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12:50 p.m.
    
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders is calling it just a "regular Thursday" at the White House - even with the dramatic testimony by former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill.
    
Here's what Sanders is telling reporters: "In terms of the mood in the White House, I would say that it's a regular Thursday at the White House. We're carrying on."
    
She says staffers have their TVs turned to the news - as they do normally. Sanders says, "We're carrying on, focused on the things that the president was elected to do."
    
Sanders says Trump spent his morning mostly in meetings with officials - including the secretaries of state and defense, discussing North Korea, the Persian Gulf region and other matters.
    
She's not sure whether the president saw most of Comey's testimony.
    
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12:45 p.m.
    
President Donald Trump says he and his supporters "are under siege" but "will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever."
    
That's what he's said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference at the same time as former FBI Director James Comey's was testifying before Congress.
    
The president did not make specific reference to Comey, who says Trump tried to get him to pledge loyalty and drop an investigation into potential collusion with Russia by his campaign aides.
    
But in the first moments of Trump's his speech he said "as you know, we're under siege" and then vowed to survive and thrive.
    
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12:40 p.m.
    
A White House spokeswoman says she doesn't know if President Donald Trump is taping his Oval Office conversations, but will "try to look under the couch."
    
Trump tweeted last month that fired FBI Director James Comey better hope there are no "tapes" of their conversations. Comey, testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday, said he indeed hoped tapes existed and called on the president to release them if they do.
    
The White House has refused to answer what the president was referring to in his tweet. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she had "no idea" about Oval Office taping.
    
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12:30 p.m.
    
A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions - after days of refusing to answer the questions.
    
Sarah Sanders tells reporters the president "absolutely" has confidence in Sessions and the rest of his Cabinet.
    
Press secretary Sean Spicer had said earlier this week that he wasn't sure about the president's opinion on Sessions because he hadn't discussed the topic with him.
    
Trump has been angry with Sessions ever since he recused himself from the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible connections with the Trump campaign.
    
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12:28 p.m.
    
A Columbia University law professor and close friend of former FBI director James Comey has confirmed he leaked contents of one of Comey's memos to The New York Times.
    
Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday that he hoped the story about his interactions with President Donald Trump would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
    
Daniel Richman confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that he was the friend who Comey mentioned in his testimony. He declined further comment.
    
Richman served with Comey in the Southern District of New York and at the FBI.
    
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12:20 p.m.
    
A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump is "not a liar."
    
Former FBI Director James Comey opened his Senate testimony by saying the administration had spread "lies, plain and simple" and "defamed" him and the agency.
    
The White House had claimed after Comey's May 9 dismissal that he had lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI agents.
    
Trump claimed separately in a television interview that the FBI was "in turmoil" and hadn't recovered.
    
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed Comey's testimony when asked about it during an off-camera briefing at the White House, saying "I can definitely say the president's not a liar."
    
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12:15 p.m.
    
Former FBI Director James Comey is steering clear of giving his opinion about whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he asked him to back off investigating ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.
    
Asked if the request rises to obstruction of justice, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee that he didn't know and that it would be special counsel Robert Mueller's job to sort that out.
    
Earlier in his testimony, Comey said he doesn't think it would be fair for him to say whether the conversation he had with the president was an effort to obstruct the FBI probe into Russian activities during the election.
    
Comey said he found the president's request "very disturbing."
    
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12:05 p.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."
    
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12:00 p.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."
    
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11:59 a.m.
    
House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump is "learning as he goes" about government and probably did not fully understand the protocols that keep the FBI separate from the president.
    
Ryan was asked about ousted FBI Director James Comey's account that Trump pushed him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey is testifying in the Senate that the request made him uncomfortable and spurred him to write detailed memos of his conversations with Trump.
    
Ryan said he had not been watching the hearings. But he said Ryan said the FBI needs to independent and "the president is new at this."
    
He later added, "He's learning as he goes."
    
Ryan said Trump is probably frustrated that speculation has swirled around him even after being told by Comey three times that he was not directly under investigation.
    
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11:50 a.m.
    
President Donald Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz plans to make a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.
    
Kasowitz's remarks are expected Thursday afternoon in downtown Washington.
    
Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.
    
This would be the first public appearance by Kasowitz.
    
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11:40 a.m.
    
Former FBI Director James Comey says he asked a friend to leak the contents of his memo about meetings with President Donald Trump.
    
Comey says in his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he felt that releasing the details of his private conversations with the president might prompt the appointment of a special counsel in the case.
    
The ousted FBI head says he made the decision after Trump tweeted that Comey should hope there aren't any tapes.
    
Comey says the contents of the memo were released to a reporter by a close friend of his who is a professor at Columbia law school.
    
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11:24 a.m.
    
Ousted FBI Director James Comey says he knew of a "variety of reasons" why Attorney General Jeff Sessions' involvement in the Russia investigation would be problematic before Sessions recused himself in March.
    
But Comey said during his Senate testimony the reasons are such "that I can't discuss in an open setting."
    
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.
    
Comey said he doesn't know if Comey thought Sessions had adhered to that recusal. He added that that depends on the real reason for Comey's firing, which Sessions had recommended.
    
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11:15 a.m.
    
Former FBI Director James Comey says he didn't announce that President Donald 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."
    
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11:12 a.m.
    
Fired FBI Director James Comey says, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," of his conversations with President Donald Trump.
    
Three days after Trump fired Comey, the president tweeted that Comey should hope there are "no tapes" of their conversations.
    
Comey documented his conversations with Trump in memos after the encounters. During his first public appearance since he was fired, senators asked Comey about his responses to Trump.
    
Comey says he chose his words carefully when responding to Trump because he was "so stunned" by the conversation. Comey was recalling a February conversation in which, Comey says, Trump said he hoped Comey could let go the FBI's investigation into Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn's calls with the Russians.
    
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11:06 a.m.
    
President Donald Trump has so far stayed off Twitter during former FBI Director James Comey's testimony. But his eldest son hasn't.
    
Donald Trump Jr. is posting repeatedly during the closely watched testimony Thursday.
    
He repeatedly defended his father and attacked Comey.
    
Trump Jr. in particular seized on Comey's assertion that he interpreted the president's statement that he "hoped" the FBI would drop its probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
    
Trump Jr. tweeted "you would think a guy like Comey" would know the difference between "hoping and telling."
    
He also cast doubt on all of Comey's testimony and said he should "have actually followed procedure."
    
Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are now at the helm of their father's New York-based business.
    
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11:00 a.m.
    
Former FBI director James Comey says he took "as a direction" President Donald Trump's remark that he hoped Comey would drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
    
Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho asked if Comey was aware of anyone being charged with obstruction of justice because they expressed hope for a certain outcome. Comey says he wasn't.
    
But Comey added at his Senate hearing: "I took it as a direction," and noted that the remark came during a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States.
    
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10:50 a.m.
    
Former FBI director James Comey says he thought during a January dinner with President Donald Trump that the president was "looking to get something" in exchange for allowing him to stay on as FBI director.
    
Comey is describing his views that the president was trying to create a type of "patronage relationship" at the start of the Trump administration.
    
The ousted FBI head is testifying that the president told him before the dinner he hoped he would stay as director.
    
Comey says law enforcement leaders aren't "supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is pleased or not with what you're doing."
    
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10:40 a.m.
    
Former FBI Director James Comey says he was concerned Donald Trump would "lie" about the nature of his first conversation with him.
    
Comey says Trump's behavior was new to him and led him to think, "I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way."
    
During the meeting, Trump asked if he personally was under investigation. Comey says he told him he was not at that time.
    
Trump fired Comey in May. At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into Russia's election meddling and ties with the Trump campaign.
    
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This story has been corrected to reflect Thursday, not Friday, at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
 

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