1. ITV Report

James Comey said Donald Trump's administration told 'lies, plain and simple'

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

Former FBI director James Comey accused Donald Trump of firing him because of his investigation into possible links between the presidential administration and Russia in a bombshell hearing.

Mr Comey accused the presidential team of spreading "lies, plain and simple" about him and the FBI as he appeared at a US senate hearing investigating alleged Russia interference in the 2016 election.

He said:

  • He was certain Russia interfered in the US election
  • Donald Trump was not investigated by the FBI while he was director
  • Mr Trump pressured him to drop an investigation into Mike Flynn
  • He took memos of meetings due to concern Mr Trump would lie
  • The president's team 'chose to defame' him and the FBI after his firing

But lawyers for Mr Trump rebutted the allegations saying the president "never, in form or substance" directed Mr Comey to stop investigating anyone, including Mike Flynn.

And Mr Comey was accused of making "unauthorised disclosures" of "privileged communications" he had with the president.

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Mr Comey had been overseeing the federal investigation into possible ties between Mr Trump's campaign and Russian election meddling when he was sensationally fired on May 9.

In his first public comments, he fiercely criticised the conduct of Mr Trump and his team - and said he was sure that Russia had meddled in the contest that led to the Republican's surprise win.

"There should be no fuzz on this. The Russians interfered," he said. "That happened. It's about as unfake as you can possibly get."

However he said that Donald Trump had never been under FBI investigation during his time at the head of the organisation.

Mr Comey said he believed his highly unexpected sacking was a direct result into his investigation into alleged meddling.

Asked if he thought this was the cause, he replied: "Yes. Because I've seen the president say so."

It's my judgement that I was fired because of the Russia investigation.

I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavour was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.

– James Comey

After his removal, he said the president's administration chose to "defame" him and "most importantly" the FBI.

"By saying that the organisation was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader."

"Those were lies, plain and simple," he added.

Mr Comey said the president repeatedly sought assurances of his 'loyalty'. Credit: AP

Mr Comey's testimony laid bare the uneasy relationship with the President from the outset.

He said that Mr Trump repeatedly sought his loyalty during a dinner at the White House on January 27.

Mr Comey says he replied that he could offer the president his honesty, to which Mr Trump replied that he wanted "honest loyalty".

Mr Comey said he paused and said: "You will get that from me."

He also revealed that he created a memo of their meeting because "I was honestly concerned that he might lie".

Mr Comey said he was concerned Mr Trump might lie about their meetings. Credit: AP

The former director also describes at length a meeting in the Oval Office on February 14 in which he believed Mr Trump asked him to drop the probe into Mr Flynn's links with the Russian ambassador.

"I didn't immediately reject Trump request to drop Flynn probe because 'I was so stunned ... I just took it in,'" Mr Comey said.

Mr Comey claims Trump said: "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."

He said he "replied only that 'he is a good guy'."

James Comey said Donald Trump pushed him to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn. Credit: AP

The testimony comes as the US president confirmed former Justice Department official Chris Wray will be his pick to replace Mr Comey as FBI head.