While testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, ousted FBI Director James Comey revealed that he kept notes on his meetings with President Trump because he feared Trump “might lie about the nature” of their talks.
Comey testified that he took detailed written notes following each of his nine conversations with Trump — beginning right after their first meeting on Jan. 6 in Trump Tower — because “of the nature of” Trump.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting,” Comey said, explaining why he began writing notes as soon as he got into the car outside Trump Tower that day in New York City. A combination of the subject matter and Trump’s nature “led me to believe I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way.”
Comey acknowledged he never took notes after talking with any other president.
Comey said he spoke with then-President Obama only twice in three years “and I didn’t document it.” As deputy director, Comey had only one meeting with then-President George W. Bush and also did not write a memo afterward. “I didn’t feel with President Bush the need to document it in that way.”
Many who were tuned into Comey’s testimony from home latched onto these comments, taking to Twitter to brand Trump a “liar.”
Comey also accused the Trump administration of telling “lies, plain and simple” when they explained his abrupt firing by saying the FBI was unhappy with his job performance.
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“The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI, by saying the organization was poorly led,” Comey said. “Those were lies, plain and simple.”
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders pushed back against Comey’s accusation in an off-camera press briefing on Thursday.
“No, I can definitively say the president is not a liar,” Sanders said. “It’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked.”
But in perhaps a sign foreboding for Trump, both Democrats and Republicans gushed over Comey’s credibility.
Sen. Jim Risch, Republican of Idaho, lavished praise on Comey for the “conciseness and clearness” of his notes about his meetings with Trump.
“This is as good as it gets,” Risch told Comey. “You’re to be complimented.”