The Latest: DoJ says Sessions recusal due to campaign work
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on developments involving fired FBI Director James Comey (all times EDT):
The Justice Department says Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation only because he was involved in President Donald Trump’s campaign.
In a statement late Thursday, spokesman Ian Prior says “it was for that reason, and that reason alone” that Sessions decided to step aside from the probe. The statement doesn’t mention Sessions’ undisclosed contacts with Russia’s ambassador.
The statement comes hours after ousted FBI Director James Comey told a Senate panel he knew of several reasons why it would be problematic for Sessions to remain involved. But Comey said he could not discuss those reasons in an open hearing.
Comey said officials had been urging Sessions to recuse himself and he suspected for at least two weeks before it took place that it would happen.
The top two members of the Senate intelligence committee say they believe former FBI director James Comey told the truth under oath Thursday.
Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina said, “I trust James Comey” and does not believe he lied. Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s top Democrat, also said he believes Comey.
Comey said at the hearing that he interpreted comments from President Donald Trump as a directive to shut down the bureau’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump’s lawyer disputed that, saying the president never directed or suggested that Comey stop investigating anyone.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer challenged Trump to release tapes the president once alluded to in a tweet. “Play the tapes for all of America to hear,” he said.
President Donald Trump is declining to answer questions about claims made by former FBI Director James Comey that he has been untruthful.
Trump stayed quiet and simply smiled Thursday afternoon when reporters asked him about Comey’s testimony before the Senate intelligence committee. The president was hosting a panel at the White House with governors and local government leaders on infrastructure.
Trump also kept silent on Twitter as Comey testified Thursday morning. The former FBI director says the president had told “lies, plain and simple” about dismissing him from the FBI due to low morale. Comey says he took notes about his meetings with the president on a feeling that the president might misrepresent them. Trump’s lawyer has disputed Comey’s statements.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says former FBI Director Jim Comey’s “resolute testimony” confirms President Donald Trump’s “contempt for justice.”
Pelosi says that instead of protecting American democracy from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the president has worked relentlessly to obstruct the investigation of General Michael Flynn and the campaign’s “possible collusion” with Russia.
Pelosi spoke after Comey appeared before a Senate panel Thursday.
Pelosi says an outside independent commission is needed to prevent foreign powers from interfering in future elections.
She says Russia hacked, leaked and in some cases altered information in a way that had an impact on the 2016 election. She says “we cannot let that happen again.”
Sen. John McCain says his sometimes confusing line of questions to fired FBI Director James Comey was aimed at getting Comey to say whether he believes President Donald Trump had obstructed justice.
The 80-year-old Arizona Republican’s performance during the widely-watched Comey hearing lit up social media sites, where many observers posted their confusion or criticism. McCain asked Comey why he was willing to come to a conclusion in the case of Hillary Clinton’s emails, but not the Russia investigation.
McCain said he wants Comey to conclude whether Trump’s interactions with Comey “constitutes obstruction of justice.”
Comey has refused to give an opinion on the obstruction question, saying that’s special counsel Robert Mueller’s job.
McCain joked that maybe he shouldn’t stay up late watching the Arizona Diamondbacks. His statement said “I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads.”
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney says the president “never, in form or substance” directed former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating anyone. That includes former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Marc Kasowitz is responding to Comey’s Thursday morning testimony, in which the fired FBI director said Trump urged him to drop the Flynn case.
Kasowitz says that the president is “entitled to expect loyalty” from those serving the administration. But he says Trump never told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” in form or substance, as Comey claimed.
Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.
He is expected to deliver a spoken statement shortly.
President Donald Trump’s lawyer is accusing fired FBI Director James Comey of “unauthorized disclosures” of “privileged communications” he had with the president.
Marc Kasowitz said there continues “to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.”
He says, “Comey has now admitted that he is one of the leakers.”
Comey said in his testimony that he leaked his memos of his conversations with the president to a friend after a tweet by the president suggested he may have taped the conversations.
Kasowitz says Trump’s team will “leave it the appropriate authorities” to determine whether the leak should be investigated.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee says there’s more work ahead in the committee’s investigation after hearing testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.
Sen. Richard Burr says the committee plans to get together next week with the special counsel who’s leading an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Burr says the aim is to work on ways to avoid logistical conflicts with upcoming witnesses and testimony.
Former FBI Director James Comey says at the end of his testimony to a Senate committee that he believes he was fired by President Donald Trump in an effort to affect the Russia investigation.
Comey says it’s a “very big deal and not just because it involves me.”
He says political considerations shouldn’t influence the FBI’s work. Comey say that if any American helped Russia in trying to influence the 2016 election, “that is a very big deal.”
Comey says he’s confident an investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller will be conducted thoroughly.
James Comey has gone back in history to find an appropriate description for one of his interactions with President Donald Trump.
The reference to medieval times has arisen during the former FBI director’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence committee.
Comey is telling senators about one of his private meetings with Trump. Comey says the president said he hoped that Comey would back off investigating Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Comey says that reminded him of the phrase, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”
It’s a reference to Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, who was killed in 1170. King Henry II was said to have said those words or something similar, which was taken by his men as an order to have Becket killed.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders is calling it just a “regular Thursday” at the White House — even with the dramatic testimony by former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill.
Here’s what Sanders is telling reporters: “In terms of the mood in the White House, I would say that it’s a regular Thursday at the White House. We’re carrying on.”
She says staffers have their TVs turned to the news — as they do normally. Sanders says, “We’re carrying on, focused on the things that the president was elected to do.”
Sanders says Trump spent his morning mostly in meetings with officials — including the secretaries of state and defense, discussing North Korea, the Persian Gulf region and other matters.
She’s not sure whether the president saw most of Comey’s testimony.
President Donald Trump says he and his supporters “are under siege” but “will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever.”
That’s what he’s said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual conference at the same time as former FBI Director James Comey’s was testifying before Congress.
The president did not make specific reference to Comey, who says Trump tried to get him to pledge loyalty and drop an investigation into potential collusion with Russia by his campaign aides.
But in the first moments of Trump’s his speech he said “as you know, we’re under siege” and then vowed to survive and thrive.
A White House spokeswoman says she doesn’t know if President Donald Trump is taping his Oval Office conversations, but will “try to look under the couch.”
Trump tweeted last month that fired FBI Director James Comey better hope there are no “tapes” of their conversations. Comey, testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday, said he indeed hoped tapes existed and called on the president to release them if they do.
The White House has refused to answer what the president was referring to in his tweet. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she had “no idea” about Oval Office taping.
A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions — after days of refusing to answer the questions.
Sarah Sanders tells reporters the president “absolutely” has confidence in Sessions and the rest of his Cabinet.
Press secretary Sean Spicer had said earlier this week that he wasn’t sure about the president’s opinion on Sessions because he hadn’t discussed the topic with him.
Trump has been angry with Sessions ever since he recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible connections with the Trump campaign.
A Columbia University law professor and close friend of former FBI director James Comey has confirmed he leaked contents of one of Comey’s memos to The New York Times.
Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday that he hoped the story about his interactions with President Donald Trump would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
Daniel Richman confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that he was the friend who Comey mentioned in his testimony. He declined further comment.
Richman served with Comey in the Southern District of New York and at the FBI.
A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump is “not a liar.”
Former FBI Director James Comey opened his Senate testimony by saying the administration had spread “lies, plain and simple” and “defamed” him and the agency.
The White House had claimed after Comey’s May 9 dismissal that he had lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI agents.
Trump claimed separately in a television interview that the FBI was “in turmoil” and hadn’t recovered.
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed Comey’s testimony when asked about it during an off-camera briefing at the White House, saying “I can definitely say the president’s not a liar.”
Former FBI Director James Comey is steering clear of giving his opinion about whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he asked him to back off investigating ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Asked if the request rises to obstruction of justice, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee that he didn’t know and that it would be special counsel Robert Mueller’s job to sort that out.
Earlier in his testimony, Comey said he doesn’t think it would be fair for him to say whether the conversation he had with the president was an effort to obstruct the FBI probe into Russian activities during the election.
Comey said he found the president’s request “very disturbing.”