Defiant Trump accuses Comey of being a liar

Former FBI chief James Comey said Mr Trump sought to derail a probe into one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn. President Donald Trump addressed reporters at the White House yesterday for the first time since Mr Comey's Senate hearing.
President Donald Trump addressed reporters at the White House yesterday for the first time since Mr Comey's Senate hearing.
Former FBI chief James Comey said Mr Trump sought to derail a probe into one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn. President Donald Trump addressed reporters at the White House yesterday for the first time since Mr Comey's Senate hearing.
Former FBI chief James Comey said Mr Trump sought to derail a probe into one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn.

President willing to testify under oath, says hearing showed no collusion, no obstruction

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has pushed back against Mr James Comey, accusing the ousted FBI director of lying about their private conversations - and saying he is "100 per cent" willing to testify under oath.

Mr Comey delivered scathing testimony a day earlier in a highly anticipated Senate hearing, saying Mr Trump had sought to derail a probe into one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn - at best, a political miscalculation, and at worst a criminal obstruction of justice.

Mr Trump was addressing reporters at the White House for the first time since Mr Comey's explosive appearance, in which he branded the President a liar and said he believed he was fired over his handling of the FBI probe into Russian election meddling.

"Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction," Mr Trump said in reference to the twin controversies dogging his administration - accusations that his aides colluded with the Russian effort to tilt the vote, and that he sought to block the related Flynn probe.

"James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren't true," Mr Trump said, lashing out at Mr Comey and branding him a "leaker" for indirectly providing to reporters the contents of memos summarising their private conversations before he was sacked.

A person close to Mr Trump's legal team has said a complaint would be filed with the Justice Department.

"Some of the things that he said just weren't true," added Mr Trump who, when asked if he would be willing to speak under oath to special prosecutor Robert Mueller about the encounters, responded: "100 per cent... I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you."

In his testimony, Mr Comey also said Mr Trump had asked him in January to pledge loyalty to the President, an unusual request that would put in doubt the independence of the FBI. "I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that?" Mr Trump said.

The White House has seized on Mr Comey's confirmation that Mr Trump personally was not under investigation over his ties to Russia to declare a victory of sorts.

Earlier in the day on Twitter, the Republican President claimed "total and complete vindication".

The White House also highlighted the fact Mr Comey stopped short of accusing Mr Trump of obstructing justice - a potentially impeachable offence.

Asked by a reporter if he had told Mr Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Flynn, Mr Trump said: "I didn't say that."

The reporter then asked: "So he lied about that?"

"Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that," Mr Trump replied. "And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I've read today, but I did not say that."

He hinted again that he had tapes of his private talks with the former FBI chief that would disprove Mr Comey's account, but declined to confirm the existence of any recordings. "I'll tell you about it over a very short period of time," he said. "You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer."

On Friday, the leaders of the House of Representatives intelligence committee's investigation said they had asked Mr Comey for his notes and memos about his discussions with Mr Trump, and also asked the White House for its notes and memos on the same.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE REUTERS, NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 11, 2017, with the headline 'Defiant Trump accuses Comey of being a liar'. Print Edition | Subscribe