Washington: US President Donald Trump punched back Friday against James Comey, accusing the ousted FBI director of lying about their private conversations — and saying he is “100 percent” willing to testify under oath.
Comey delivered scathing testimony a day earlier in a highly-anticipated Senate hearing, saying Trump sought to derail a probe into onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn — at best, a political miscalculation, and at worst a criminal obstruction of justice.
Trump was addressing reporters at the White House for the first time since 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,” Trump said in reference to the twin controversies dogging his administration — accusations his aides colluded with the Russian effort to tilt the vote, and that he sought to block the related Flynn probe.
Trump lashed out at Comey, branding him a “leaker” for indirectly providing to reporters the contents of memos summarizing their private conversations in the weeks before he was sacked. A person close to 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 the president who, when asked if he would be willing to speak under oath to special prosecutor Robert Mueller about the encounters, responded: “100 percent.”
“I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you,” Trump said.
The White House has seized on Comey’s confirmation that 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 Trump administration has also highlighted the fact Comey stopped short of accusing the president of obstructing justice — a potentially impeachable offense. The former FBI chief has said the decision was now in the hands of special counsel Mueller.
Questioned about Comey’s central claim that Trump told him to lay off Flynn, the president responded: “I didn’t say that.”
“And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I read today.”
During almost three hours of statements Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey described himself as “stunned” by Trump’s “very disturbing” and “very concerning” behavior towards him.
Detailing one-on-one talks with a sitting president — which under normal circumstances are private — Comey said he took painstaking notes for fear Trump might “lie” about the unusual encounters.
And Comey admitted he asked a friend to leak those notes to a reporter, betting — correctly — that the details would prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Comey said he had done so after Trump suggested in a tweet that their conversations may have been recorded.
Trump demurred when asked whether tapes of his talks with Comey actually exist.
“I’ll tell you about that maybe in the very near future,” he said.
Meanwhile the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee, which is also probing Russian election meddling, wrote Comey requesting his notes memorializing his conversations with Trump.
The separately wrote the White House counsel Don McGahn asking whether White House recordings exist, and if they do, that they be produced to the committee by June 23.