President Donald Trump did not “obstruct” the Russia investigation, said Former FBI Director James Comey during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Comey responded “no” when asked if the President or any individual told him to stop the Russia investigation.
“I don’t think my conversation with the President was an effort to obstruct” the investigation, Comey said, referring to his dinner with the President on January 27 during which Trump asks Comey to pledge his loyalty. “I took it as disturbing.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating that a foreign adversary “attacked us right here at home” and has “highjacked our most important Democratic process,” according to Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia who is the vice chairman of the committee.
The Committee questioned Comey on Thursday regarding the investigation into Russian spies “engaged in a series of online cyber raids and a broad campaign of dis-information,” according to Warner, “sowing chaos to undermine public faith in our [Democratic] process […] leadership and ourselves.”
Comey said there was “no fuzz on that” when asked directly if the Russians interfered in the U.S. election, and that it was a “hostile act” against the U.S. government.
“This is not a witch hunt. This is not fake news,” Warner said. “This is an effort to protect our country from a new threat that will […] not go away any time soon.”
President Donald Trump fired Comey in May, claiming the former FBI director had “lost the confidence” of the country. However, it was widely speculated that there were other reasons for Trump’s firing of Comey, including the Flynn firing controversy.
Comey said he later learned that the President fired him on May 9 to relieve pressure surround the Russia investigation. The President had asked Comey to “lift the cloud” on the Russia investigation during two separate phone calls on March 30 and April 11.
Comey said he thinks the President meant the investigation is “taking up oxygen” when it comes to running the country, and that Trump wanted it to be clear that he himself was not being investigated.
Then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the former top security adviser, resigned back in February days after the controversy about him speaking to Russian officials before Trump was sworn into office came to light, and then reports about Flynn lying to Vice President Mike Pence about it.
Comey said Thursday that Trump at one point asked him to stop investigating Flynn.
A memo was released in May that revealed Trump asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn amid controversy that Flynn could be subject to Russian blackmail for speaking with officials before the President was sworn into office.