President Donald Trump said fired FBI Director James Comey lied in his Senate testimony and that he would be willing to testify under oath that he didn’t demand a pledge of personal loyalty from Comey.
“100 percent,” Trump said Friday during a news conference at the White House with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. “I hardly know the man, I’m not going to say, ‘I want you to pledge allegiance.”’
Trump said Comey’s testimony on Thursday showed he hadn’t colluded with the Russian government to rig the 2016 election or obstructed a federal investigation into the meddling.
He hinted that there are no tapes of their conversations, contrary to a suggestion in a tweet he issued shortly after firing Comey.
“Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction,” Trump said. “Frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said, and some of the things he said just weren’t true.”
Trump’s offer to testify heightens the drama of his standoff with Comey, who told senators that Trump had demanded his personal loyalty and had pressured him to drop a counterintelligence investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey’s remarks suggested fresh lines of inquiry for Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, as well as for congressional investigations.
Trump’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, denied both of Comey’s claims in a statement on Thursday after the former FBI director’s appearance. Trump said “no” when asked if he demanded a loyalty pledge from Comey. He also said he didn’t ask Comey to drop an investigation of Flynn.
“I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “And there’d be nothing wrong if I did say that, according to everybody that I’ve read today. But I did not say that.”
Comey told the Senate panel he would urge the release of any recording of his conversations with the president. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” he said to the senators.
Trump didn’t answer a question Friday about whether he had recorded his conversations with Comey. “I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future,” he said. Moments later, he added: “You’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, a Texas Republican, and Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top-ranking Democrat, announced after the news conference they have asked the White House to produce any recordings or memoranda that might exist of Trump’s conversations with Comey.
Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the Trump administration’s characterizations of the FBI and his work there as a justification for his firing were “lies, plain and simple.”
In almost three hours of sworn testimony, Comey also said he orchestrated a leak to a New York Times reporter of a memo describing his conversations with Trump in the hope that it would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
“No collusion, no obstruction. He’s a leaker,” Trump said.
Comey’s testimony neither exonerated nor convicted the president, instead laying out a road map of questions for Mueller to follow about Trump’s conduct, a path it could take Mueller months, even years, to follow. At the same time, the head of the panel said its investigation is just getting started, and a second committee may summon Comey to testify.
Trump raised the possibility he might have recorded his conversations with Comey last month when the president tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations.”