Breaking News Emails
President Donald Trump fired back early Friday after the dramatic Senate testimony given by ousted FBI Director James Comey, tweeting that it was the Washington veteran who spun a tale of "lies."
"Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication ... and WOW, Comey is a leaker," Trump wrote, breaking his silence after Comey's more than two and half hours of public testimony Thursday. Trump didn't specify why he thought Comey lied and how he was vindicated.
Later Friday, Trump retweeted noted Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, who defended the president from a legal standpoint, if not a political one.
"We should stop talking about obstruction of justice. No plausible case. We must distinguish crimes from pol sins," Dershowitz wrote.
During the highly charged hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a blunt-talking Comey said that he was "confused" when Trump said in May that he was firing him over the plummeting morale at the agency — a stunning dismissal that left Washington reeling.
"The administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly, the FBI by saying the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader," Comey said.
Comey, who was fired May 9 amid his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, also revealed that he orchestrated a disclosure of details about conversations he had with Trump.
"I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting," he said under oath, "and so I thought it really important to document."
Comey said that he considered making memos of those conversations public after Trump cryptically tweeted on May 12 that "Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
After mulling it over "in the middle of the night," he said he asked a "good friend" — a Columbia Law professor later identified as Daniel Richman — to leak contents to a reporter from one of those private memos.
In the memo, Comey said that Trump had asked him to shut down an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, raising questions about potential obstruction of justice by the president. He also testified that Trump repeatedly demanded his "loyalty" from him before his firing.
Ultimately, Comey told the committee, he wanted what was in the unclassified memo made public because, "I thought it might prompt the appointment of a special counsel" in the Russia inquiry.
Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, said minutes after Thursday's hearing that Comey was wrong to make "unauthorized disclosures" of privileged communications, but that the president feels "vindicated" after Comey testified that Trump was not under any FBI investigation.
"The president also never told Mr. Comey, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,' in form or substance," Kasowitz told reporters.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also stood behind the president Friday, saying on TODAY that Comey "wasn't man enough" to turn over his memo personally to the press.
When asked whether the president has "tapes" of his conversation with Comey, as Trump suggested in his tweet, Lewandowski added that he doesn't know and Comey should still be worried.
"I think Jim Comey's credibility is at about zero right now," he said.
Until Friday morning's tweet at 6:10 a.m. ET, Trump had not posted on Twitter for almost two days. If he had waited another three minutes, it would have been the longest no-tweet stretch since announcing his candidacy, according to The Washington Post.