The stunning testimony of fired FBI Director James Comey has left the country with one question: who is lying, Comey or President Trump? It’s astounding that’s what we are left with. The story is fluid as both the president’s spokesman and lawyer directly refute what Comey said under oath. If Comey’s not telling the truth, he perjured himself. If Trump is lying, well, who knows what that means.
Here are some takeaways written as the testimony was happening:
• Comey said Trump lied, “plain and simple.” He lied about many events and conversations including that he never asked Comey to drop Flynn investigation.
• According to today’s testimony Trump held Comey’s job over his head. He asked Comey to drop Flynn probe which Comey took as a directive. Trump allegedly cleared the room of everyone except the two of them.
• Comey said he decided to memorialize his meetings with Trump because he was worried Trump would lie about them.
• Comey admited he leaked through a friend non-classified information—the fact that he contemporaneously wrote a memo, hoping to spur special counsel appointment. The opinion here is that Coney’s willingness to be forthright about this adds to his believability.
• Comey testified then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch ordered him to refer to the Trump-Russian investigation as “a matter” not an “investigation.”
• Due to its potentially classified nature, Comey refused to answer some questions about the status of the Flynn investigation indicating that it’s deeper than we know.
• Comey admitted he told Trump—three times—that he, Trump, was not the focus of a counter-intelligence investigation.
• He had no clear rationale as to why didn’t just tell the president that asking about Flynn was improper.
• Comey welcomed the release of the memos he wrote as well as any possible taping of his conversations with Trump.
• Attorney General Sessions looks bad in all of this.
• Comey said Trump demanded “loyalty.”
• Comey said he believes he was fired because he didn’t end Flynn-Russia probe.
As the nation’s capital stirred after Comey concluded his testimony, Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders had to weigh in on the president’s truthfulness.
Trump’s attorney was even more succinct.
So what now? There can be—and there already has been—intense debate about whether, if Comey is to be believed, the president is guilty of obstruction of justice. There is little doubt, though, that a Republican controlled House would ever impeach Trump without further, substantial evidence of wrong doing.
It was riveting television. A former FBI director, respected near universally, called the president a liar. What’s next? We’ll see.