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Trump says Comey's testimony gives him 'total vindication'

Trump says Comey's testimony gives him 'total vindication'

Former FBI Director James Comey admitted Thursday at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he leaked memos about his meetings with President Donald Trump through a third party to the media and lawyers now question the legality of that release.

In a closed-door hearing that followed his public testimony Thursday, Comey reportedly told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the F.B.I. was aware of a potential third meeting between Sessions and Kislyak previous year during a campaign event at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Justice Department denied that the alleged meeting ever took place.

Comey was pilloried for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, yet is now seen as a critical cog in the inquiry into possible connections between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Expanding on the bombshell statement released on the eve of his appearance, Comey said the president asked him for "loyalty" during a White House dinner and to lay off former national security advisor Mike Flynn - who is under criminal investigation - imploring Comey to "let this go."It's my judgment that I was sacked because of the Russian Federation investigation", he told senators". Comey indicated that it was now up to a high-powered special prosecutor to determine whether the president's behavior constituted an obstruction of justice, a potentially impeachable offense. The Democrats on the Senate panel were the HR investigators trying to get as much out there as possible, knowing full well the Republicans on the committee were playing the role of Trump patrons, finding every excuse they could to downplay what happened and why.

After Comey's abrupt dismissal from the job last month, Trump told NBC that Comey was a "showboat" and a "grandstander", adding: "You take a look at the Federal Bureau of Investigation a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil, less than a year ago".

"I have to say, the chronology is pretty bad for him", Georgetown University law professor Julie O'Sullivan said of Trump.

"I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn't dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape", Comey said. But more to the point, if Comey were inclined to lie, he would have - and certainly could have - invented a far, far more damning story. "I took it as, 'This is what he wants me to do.' I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it", Comey said in an exchange with Idaho Republican Sen. About the loyalty pledge from Comey, Mr Trump said: "I hardly know the man, I'm not going to ask him to pledge allegiance".

During one White House dinner, Comey recalled that the president asked him for "loyalty" and to lay off his former national security advisor Michael Flynn - who is under criminal investigation over his Russian Federation ties - imploring Comey to "let this go".

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And Trump's "tapes" tweet on Friday, May 12, is what prompted his decision.

Meanwhile, Trump has told supporters: "We're under siege. but we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever", he said.

Comey confirmed what Trump had said when he fired the FBI director last month: Comey had told the president on three different occasions that he wasn't the target of a criminal investigation.

He portrayed Trump as a chief executive dismissive of the FBI's independence and made clear that he interpreted Trump's request to end an investigation into his former national security adviser as an order coming from the president. According to Comey, the conversation over dinner with the current incumbent was sufficiently unsettling that, right after he left the White House, he typed out his recollections of it on a laptop, for the record. Comey's testimony is certain to dominate the question-and-answer session. So, Clark Comey leaked his version of the conversation to a friend who leaked it to the press.

"Nobody talked about obstruction of justice", said Dershowitz. "And I mean I will you tell you I didn't say that".

"That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI's work and that's concerning", he said.

There is also a potential argument to be made that the information became classified once Comey typed them on a classified laptop, as he claims to have done.

And there are clearly some discrepancies in how Trump and Comey remember some meetings.

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