In a two and a half hour testimony Thursday morning, former FBI Director James Comey spoke before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Trump-Russia investigation and his perspective on what ultimately lead to his firing.
Right off the bat, Comey addressed his firing and gave one of the more memorable quotes of the testimony: "the [Trump] administration chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple,"
The former Director of the FBI calling the President a flat out liar is certainly controversial but it didn't end there. Comey went on to chronicle all nine of his interactions with President Trump. After the first one, he revealed, Comey immediately wrote down everything that happened following the meeting. He felt the need to have his own record of events in case Trump lied. This was his feeling after the first time meeting the man.
Their next meeting, according to Comey, was a dinner called for by the President. He stated that he believed there would be others at this dinner and was surprised to learn it was just him and the President. It was at this dinner that the President allegedly asked Comey for his loyalty. Following this meeting, Trump's personal lawyer denied this claim.
Their third and final in-person meeting is the one getting the most attention, for the possibility of an obstruction of justice. Comey stated that following a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump asked everyone to leave except him, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was apparently reluctant to do so.
Comey noted he and Trump's son-in-law Eric Kushner lingering in the room, most likely knowing what the President was about to do. After they were alone, Trump began discussing Mike Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser who had just resigned days earlier over alleged ties to Russian government officials.
Trump said Flynn "is a good guy" and that he hoped Comey "can let this go." Following this interaction, Comey asked Sessions to never leave him alone with the president, to which Sessions did not respond. He characterized the meeting as "very concerning" to senior FBI leadership.
While Republican senators on the committee noted that saying he "hoped" did not constitute an order, Comey stated that he took it as a directive. One can't blame him for doing so, being one-on-one with the President in the Oval Office can certainly be intimidating.
At this point Comey and Senator Angus King share a light-hearted moment when both drew comparison to St. Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury killed in 1170 after King Henry II exclaimed to his court "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"
Another major point in the testimony was the revelation of how Comey's notes on the meetings were leaked. He stated that after being fired and seeing Trump's tweet about the possibility of tapes of their conversations, he knew he needed to make his notes public. He proceeded to send those notes to a friend of his, a professor at Columbia Law School, with the intention of leaking them to the press. Comey stated he did this with the hope that a special counsel would be appointed.
Following the hearing, Trump tweeted a response, calling Comey a "leaker." This has been controversial, with some saying that this was privileged communication that shouldn't have been leaked, while others argued that these were his own personal notes and therefore do not constitute a confidential document.
There were many interesting, albeit concerning, new facts learned from Comey's testimony. Two should stick out in our minds, however; the first is that the former FBI Director has said without hesitation that the President and his administration lied. The other vital fact is what he has said about the Russia investigation: "there should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that."