Former FBI Director James Comey spoke to the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the American people, for more than two-and-a-half hours today about President Donald J. Trump and the role Russia played in the 2016 election. This open hearing was broadcast live by many major networks, and it was scheduled to be followed almost immediately by a closed session with questions relating to classified information.
Senators from both sides of the political aisle were given an opportunity to probe Comey after he was put under oath. Comey appeared to be well-poised and answered most questions without hesitation. During the testimony, Comey made some shocking allegations against the Trump Administration, and he also gave a clear indication that Russia did meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump Administration Accused of Lying
One of the biggest moments of the hearing came when Comey said point-blank that the Trump Administration had lied about the FBI.
“Although the law requires no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce has lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I am so sorry that the American people were told them.”
CNN reports that Comey also made it clear that he didn’t believe the initial reason that was given for his firing and said that he does believe he was terminated due to his work on the Russian investigation.
Comey: ‘No Doubt’ Russia Meddled
The first round of questions, which was led by Republican Sen. Richard Burr, firmly established that Comey is convinced Russia meddled in the election between Trump and Hillary Clinton. Comey’s responses indicated that the FBI’s investigation into the matter made it clear that the Russian government was aware of the interference.
In other big news, Comey verified that cyber attacks were carried out against U.S. voter databases, and this action was traced back to government officials in Russia.
No Ballots Were Altered
In a win for the Republican Party and the Trump Administration, Comey attempted to put to rest rumors that ballots were altered on Election Day. “I’d seen no indication of that whatsoever,” the former FBI Director responded when questioned about this possibility.
New York Times Report Was ‘Not True’
A bombshell report that was published by the New York Times on February 14 was debunked during today’s hearing. According to the news piece, there was evidence that Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government. When asked if this story was false, Comey replied, “In the main, it was not true.”
What Happens Next?
Comey was unwilling to answer direct questions about whether or not Trump tried to obstruct justice with his actions regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the FBI’s Russia investigation. The answer to this line of questioning will probably come out during the closed hearing, but it may be a long time before the public learns more details.
What was confirmed, though, was that Flynn was under an active FBI investigation when he was forced to resign. We also now know that Trump wasn’t under any active investigations at the time that Comey was fired.
Impeachment talks are certain to continue in light of some of Comey’s more damaging testimony, but experts believe it’s highly unlikely that the Republican-led Congress will actually vote to impeach Trump. The only other viable action to remove a sitting president would involve proof of criminal activity, and no such proof, if it even exists, has been made publicly available.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]