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Former FBI director James Comey opened his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday by complaining about “shifting explanations” for why he had been fired, and by attacking the Trump administration.
Comey said that he had originally intended to accept his firing quietly, but then found that the administration’s statements about the matter “confused me and increasingly concerned me.” He said that President Donald Trump had assured him that he was doing a good job, and that he had assured the president in return that he intended to stay.
“I was extremely well-liked by the FBI workforce,” Comey said. “So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation.”
Under questioning, Comey would later admit that the president did not ask him to stop the Russia investigation, an admission already contained in Comey’s prepared written testimony.
Comey continued: “I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly: that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year.” He had assumed that was “water … under the bridge,” he said.
“The administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple, and I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.”
Comey closed his remarks by offering words of praise for his former colleagues at the FBI. But his remarks left little doubt that his motivations for testifying were deeply personal. And they created an impression that he intended to exact a political price from the president for doing what he acknowledged the president had every right to do.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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