Former FBI Director James B. Comey testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday implies President Donald Trump abused his power in ways that could amount to an obstruction of justice by instructing him to drop the FBI investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.
“Today is your opportunity to set the record straight,” the committee’s chairman, Richard Burr of North Carolina, said to Comey.
Comey did not hold back in attempting to set the record straight during his nationally televised testimony in which he said that Trump and others in his administration had lied when they said agents had lost confidence in the former FBI director.
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey said in his brief opening remarks.
Trump made that claim about the loss of confidence when he fired Comey last month. Comey said he was confused and concerned by Trump’s changing explanation for firing him.
Comey said during the televised Senate hearing that Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn, a request that could amount to obstruction of justice.
Comey’s testimony presented serious allegations, and emphasizes the importance of the panel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
When asked why Comey didn’t report that Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into Flynn to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Comey said he had shared details of their conversations with “the senior leadership team of the FBI.”
After Trump told Comey he hoped there would be an easing off regarding the inquiry into Flynn, Comey said the team agreed not to inform Sessions who was about to remove himself from the investigation or those working on the investigation.
During Thursday’s hearing, Republicans on the panel sought to detract from Comey’s testimony by attacking the former FBI director’s credibility. The question of a possible obstruction of justice by the president appeared to be of little interest to them.
The revelations by Comey that Trump may have tried to meddle in an FBI investigation is the strongest evidence yet for any future argument for impeachment against Trump.