Justice

11 Quotes You Might Have Missed From the Comey Hearing

June 8th 2017

By:
Kyle Jaeger

Fired FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress on Thursday, detailing his relationship with President Donald Trump and providing more information about the FBI's ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Here are 11 quotes that you might have missed:

James-Comey

1. "I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way."

Fearful that the president would "lie" about their first conversation, Comey resolved to keep contemporaneous memos that described their exchanges "in a very detailed way." The Senate Intelligence Committee has requested those memos from the FBI.

2. Comey said he's "sure" that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice.

Though Comey admitted to assuring Trump that he was not personally under investigation by the FBI, he said he was "sure" that Mueller was investigating whether the president attempted to obstruct justice.

3. "He’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job."

The president repeatedly asked Comey about his job and implored him to stay on as the head of the FBI, which Comey agreed to do. Comey said "common sense" told him that Trump was "looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job."

4. "I took it as a direction."

During a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office, Trump told Comey, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go" in reference to the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, whose connections to Russian officials were a point of concern for intelligence officials.

Comey said he interpreted the conversation "as a direction" to drop the investigation. In his prepared testimony, he also described the exchange as "very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency."

5. "I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation."

Following the FBI director's abrupt firing on May 9, the White House initially claimed it was based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—and over his handling of the Clinton email investigation. Trump subsequently contradicted that claim, telling NBC News he was thinking about the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the election when he decided to fire Comey.

6. "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."

Three days after Comey was fired, Trump wrote that he "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"

Comey said he does "hope there are tapes" to clear the record.

7. "Our judgment as I recall was that [Sessions] was very close to, and inevitably going to, recuse himself for a variety of reasons."

Comey said the FBI was under the impression that Attorney General Sessions would "inevitably" recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the election. He declined to detail the "variety of reasons" leading the agency to that conclusion, citing "facts that I can't discuss in open setting."

8. "In retrospect, I love spending time with my wife. I wish I had been there that night."

Asked whether he initiated his Jan. 27 meeting with the president, as Trump suggested, Comey said "no."

"I hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her. I was supposed to take her out to dinner that night," Comey said. "In retrospect, I love spending time with my wife. I wish I had been there that night."

9. "They will be back because we remain—as difficult as we can be with each other—we remain that shining city on the hill and they don’t like it."

The FBI investigation into Russian interference isn't about partisanship, Comey said. The Russian government is "coming after America, which I hope we all love equally."

"They want to undermine our credibility in the face of the world," Comey testified. "They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them and so they’re going try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back because we remain, as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill and they don’t like it."

10. "Release the tapes. I'm good with it."

The hearing turned again to the subject of recordings the president implied he made during meetings with Comey. The former FBI director said he wouldn't be "hurt" to learn that Trump recorded their conversations and encouraged him to "[r]elease all the tapes."

11. "I knew there was no case there."

Comey said he considered calling for a special counsel after President Bill Clinton met then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the 2016 presidential election, but ultimately decided against it because he "knew there was no case there." Earlier in the hearing, Comey said that meeting prompted him to announce the FBI's findings from an investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.