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Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Senate building in Washington, DC, USA, today, June 8, 2017. EFE/SHAWN THEW
Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee at the Senate building in Washington, DC, USA, today, June 8, 2017. EFE/SHAWN THEW

Comey: “I was fired because of the Russia investigation”

Highlights from the testimony of former FBI director James Comey in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee today.

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In what the media have described as "the Super bowl of Washington," James Comey's testimony to the Senate today drew crowds into the capital's bars, and had the fixed attention of all international observers.

The reason? That this could be the first live and direct impeachment in the United States over the last few decades.

The relationship between President Donald Trump and former FBI Director James Comey unleashed a domino effect that culminated in today's testimony.

Comey was responsible for the investigation into a possible Moscow intervention in last year's presidential election, and his investigations took him to the nearest circle to President Donald Trump, who has been cornered by what he has called a "cloud" and "Fake news".

After his dismissal, and the leakage of his memorandums detailing the irregular conversations he had with the president, the circumstance of a special investigative commission in the case was irremediable, bringing with it his testimony that he himself required to be public.

To this end, he presented the Committee with a seven-page statement detailing the facts and the reasons why he should come forward and present his case, around his three meetings and six conversations with the President since 6 January this year.

Echoing his reputation and integrity, the former director answered each of the questions that were communicated to him, in a session that lasted two and a half hours.

Those were lies, plain and simple

After acknowledging the work of the FBI team with which Comey was "honored" to work, the former director said that his pain and discomfort after his dismissal had been nothing compared to the fact that the Trump Administration had decided to "defame me and more importantly, the FBI", referring to President Trump's remarks when he said the organization was" in disarray", misdirected and that officials had "lost confidence" in its leader.

Comey said, “Those were lies, plain and simple. And I’m so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry the American people were told them.’”

Comey considers his dismissal due to Russia's investigation

“I understood that I could be fired by a president for any reason, or for no reason at all. And on May the 9th, when I learned that I had been fired, for that reason, I immediately came home as a private citizen. But then, the explanations — the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me”, said the former director in his opening testimony.

For Comey, the fact that on several previous occasions (before and after his swearing in) the president had repeated to him how well he did his job and his hopes of continuing to work together, marked a specific scenario. But after his dismissal, the President assured on TV that the reason was in the investigation of Russia.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

The president could lie

Asked about the nature of his records and his reason, Comey asserted that his experience with previous presidents had never made it necessary to record his meetings (referring to the Obama and Bush administrations), but in the case of the new president, “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document”, Comey said.

After the former director's public testimony, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the press to contradict Comey, asserting, "I can definitely say that the President is not a liar. I think it’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked”, according to CNN.

The source of leaks

The appearance of specific data extracted from the memorandums of the former director of the FBI in national media, specifically in the New York Times on May 16, detailing his discussions with Trump, was a question for the Committee.

Comey admitted to being the one who made the documents through a "close friend" to the media as a consequence of a Tweet of the president on May 12, in which presumed alleged recordings about their encounters.

"As a private citizen, I felt free to share that," he said. "I thought it was very important to get it out."

In addition, the former director said that his decision was intended to appoint a Special Prosecutor for the investigation, and that the strategy of doing so by a second person was intended to avoid the harassment of the press.

Comey also said he sent his memos to former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, who was appointed as special adviser after his dismissal.

The president responds through his personal lawyer

Following the testimony of James Comey, President Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, made statements in front of the press without allowing questions, flatly denying that the President had asked "loyalty" to the then FBI director, and accusing him of improperly filtering "privileged communications".

"Today Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President" Kasowitz said.

The lawyer also firmly denied that the President had "directed or suggested" that Mr. Comey should leave any type of investigation, including that involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

What to expect now?

For Senator Richard M. Burr, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, "this is nowhere near the end of the investigation", ensuring that, even though the information offered by Comey has helped clarify some important facts, this is just the beginning, according to the Washington Post.

During testimony prior to the former director, the Senate Committee had to face the denials of several intelligence chiefs, who refused to respond to details about their talks with Trump or Comey, including National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency Administrative Director Mike Rogers, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI acting director Andrew McCabe.

The honesty and collaboration of James Comey seems to suggest that the former director has nothing to hide and much less to lose, and is the fuel necessary for this research to come to a solid conclusion that will determine the course of current US policy.

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