Replay: James Comey claims his moment at hearing

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney says the president “never, in form or substance” directed former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating anyone. That includes former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Marc Kasowitz is responding to Comey’s Thursday morning testimony, in which the fired FBI director said Trump urged him to drop the Flynn case.

Kasowitz says that the president is “entitled to expect loyalty” from those serving the administration. But he says Trump never told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” in form or substance, as Comey claimed.

Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.

Credit: Mark Wilson

Former FBI Director James Comey steered clear of giving his opinion about whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he asked him to back off investigating ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Asked if the request rises to obstruction of justice, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee that he didn’t know and that it would be special counsel Robert Mueller’s job to sort that out.

Earlier in his testimony, Comey said he doesn’t think it would be fair for him to say whether the conversation he had with the president was an effort to obstruct the FBI probe into Russian activities during the election.

Comey said he found the president’s request “very disturbing.”

Read: James Comey’s opening remarks posted online

The former FBI director wrote that the President had demanded his loyalty, pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and repeatedly pressured him to publicly declare that Trump himself was not under investigation. Comey made clear his discomfort with the President’s actions, saying it seemed as though Trump was trying to create a “patronage relationship” with him. He will also testify Thursday that he felt compelled to immediately write down details of his encounters with Trump for the record. He also said he implored Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shield him from future one-on-one conversations with the President.

Comey’s account of this encounter conflicts with Trump’s own statements. At a news conference May 18, the President was asked whether he had asked the FBI director to pull the plug on the Flynn component of the Russia investigation.

“No. No. Next question,” Trump said.

However, Comey testified that Pres. Trump said during a private meeting in the Oval Office: “‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

“I replied only that ‘he is a good guy.'” Comey wrote, then added: “I did not say I would ‘let this go.'”

Democrats believe the exchange between Trump and Comey about Flynn is more evidence that could build a case that the President obstructed justice — which in several times in history has been regarded as an impeachable offense.

“I think it is devastating. … If the President said those words, I believe it is absolutely devastating, completely inappropriate,” said New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate intelligence committee, on CNN.