Ex-FBI chief James Comey told Congress that President Donald Trump’s comments about him and the FBI were “lies plain and simple”.
While testifying before a Senate panel, Mr Comey said the president was wrong to denigrate the agency and its leadership.
He was also “confused” by the “shifting explanations” from the White House for his sacking.
Mr Comey said Mr Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a “great” job.
But he added he understood the president has the right to fire an FBI director at any time.
Mr Comey told the panel that the administration “chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI” by claiming the agency was “poorly led”.
“Those were lies, plain and simple. And I’m so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them,” he continued.
“The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent,” he said in his opening remarks.
When asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee whether the president tried to stop the Russia investigation he was conducting, Mr Comey said: “Not to my understanding, no.”
He said he it was not for him to say whether Mr Trump’s actions were an obstruction of justice.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s vice chairman, pressed Mr Comey on why he decided to keep record of his conversations with Mr Trump.
Mr Comey said it was a matter of circumstances, the subject matter and the “person I was interacting with”.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting” he told the panel of Mr Trump.
Mr Comey was leading one of several Russia investigations before Mr Trump fired him.
US intelligence agencies believe Russia interfered in the US election and they are investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
But there is no known evidence of collusion and President Donald Trump has dismissed the story as “fake news”.
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