WASHINGTON • Fired FBI director James Comey admitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he leaked his personal notes on his meetings with President Donald Trump
"I didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons," he said, instead asking a friendly law professor to share his written recollection of those conversations with a reporter. "I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel" in the Russia probe.
Here are other key points of what Mr Comey said in Thursday's hearing:
'DIRECTION', BUT NO ORDER TO END PROBE
The key issue before the committee was whether Mr Trump sought to obstruct the investigation in nine conversations with Mr Comey this year, leading up to his dismissal of the FBI chief. Asked if Mr Trump ever demanded the Russia investigation be shut down, he said flatly: "No".
But he said that Mr Trump's request at a Feb 14 meeting for him to ease the probe of former national security adviser Michael Flynn sounded like an order.
Mr Trump said, Mr Comey recalled, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy." "I took it as a direction. He's the president of the United States, with me alone, saying 'I hope this.'... I took it as this is what he wants me to do."
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE?
Mr Comey said it was not up to him but instead the independent special counsel in the Russia probe, Mr Robert Mueller, to decide whether Mr Trump broke a law.
"I don't think it's for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning." At the same time, he strongly suggested obstruction.
"It's my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation," he told senators. "I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavour was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal."
WHITE HOUSE 'LIED' OVER COMEY FIRING
Mr Comey recalled that Mr Trump and the White House gave shifting explanations for why he was dismissed, first saying it was over his handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe last year, then saying it was the Russia investigation, and finally declaring Mr Comey was a poor leader disliked by the FBI staff.
"The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organisation was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader," Mr Comey said. "Those were lies, plain and simple."