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WASHINGTON — Just minutes after former FBI director James Comey testified under oath that the White House had lied about his firing, President Donald Trump's personal lawyer on Thursday afternoon accused Comey of making up facts about his encounters with the president.
In a news conference at which he took no questions, the lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, denied that Trump ever asked Comey for his loyalty, contradicting a key part of the ousted FBI director's testimony. And Kasowitz said Trump had never pressured Comey to drop the investigation against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Kasowitz said the president feels "vindicated" by Comey's statement that Trump was not under investigation, and is ready to move forward with his agenda for the country.
"The president also never told Mr. Comey, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,' in form or substance," Kasowitz told reporters.
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Kasowitz said Comey leaked information from his own memos to news media through a friend and labeled Comey as "one of these leakers" who are "actively attempting to undermine the president." He strongly suggested that federal authorities investigate Comey's leaks, although the memo that Comey gave to a friend was not classified and was turned over after he was fired.
He also seized on parts of Comey's testimony where the former FBI director said Trump asked him during a February meeting at the White House to " see your way clear to letting ... go" the investigation into Flynn.
"The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone including suggesting that Mr. Comey 'let Flynn go,'" Kasowitz said, rebutting another key piece of Comey's testimony where he said he believed the president was directing him to end the FBI's probe into Flynn.
In Kasowitz's view, Comey's testimony also establishes that the president "was not being investigated for colluding" with the Russians, or "attempting to obstruct that investigation."
His comments Thursday afternoon were the first reaction from the White House to the highly-anticipated testimony, which referred all Comey and Russia-related questions to outside counsel.
The Republican National Committee handled rapid response rebuttal during the testimony, with Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declining to comment on Comey-related questions during an off-camera gaggle.