ABC News Australia

James Comey and Donald Trump: President ‘100 per cent’ willing to speak under oath on sacked FBI chief

10 June 2017

US President Donald Trump has denied he told then-FBI chief James Comey he hoped an investigation into a former national security adviser could be let go, adding he was “100 per cent” willing to give his version of events under oath.

Key points:

  • James Comey said he was fired to interfere with probe of Russia’s ties to Trump campaign
  • Donald Trump said Mr Comey lied in testimony, is “100 per cent” willing to speak under oath
  • Intelligence committee asks both White House Counsel and Mr Comey for tapes, memos of conversations

In his testimony to Congress on Thursday, Mr Comey laid bare on Capitol Hill months of distrust of the president, asserting that Mr Trump had fired him to interfere with the probe of Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign.

Mr Comey also revealed that he had orchestrated the public release of information about his private conversations with the president in an effort to further the investigation.

But Mr Trump insisted during a press conference with Romania’s President Klaus Werner Iohannis that Mr Comey lied in some parts of the testimony he gave to the Senate intelligence committee, and asserted that nothing in his testimony showed collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice.

“He’s a leaker,” Mr Trump said dismissively.

“Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction.”

Mr Trump also said he never asked Mr Comey for a pledge of loyalty and never told Mr Comey he hoped the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn would go away.

“I didn’t say that,” Mr Trump told reporters when asked about Mr Comey’s account relating to the investigation into Mr Flynn.

Asked if he would be willing to give his version of events under oath, Mr Trump replied: “100 per cent.”

The US President also refused to rule out his previous claim there may be tapes of his conversations with the former FBI director.

“Well, I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future,” Mr Trump said, when asked about the existence of the tapes.

Meanwhile, the intelligence committee asked White House Counsel Don McGahn in a letter whether any tape recordings or memos of the conversations exist now, or had existed in the past.

The committee also sent a letter to Mr Comey, asking for any notes or memoranda in his possession that would describe discussions he had with Mr Trump.

Earlier, Mr Trump, who had refrained from tweeting all day on Thursday, even as Mr Comey accused his administration of spreading “lies” and suggested Mr Trump had attempted to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, struck back in an early-morning tweet.

“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication,” Mr Trump wrote, suggesting that Mr Comey, who was under oath at the hearing, had committed perjury.

Mr Trump also seized on Mr Comey’s revelation that he had directed a friend to release memos he’d written documenting his conversations with the president to a reporter.

“…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Mr Trump wrote.

Although Mr Comey refused to say to senators whether he thought Mr Trump had obstructed justice, he suggested that matter would be considered by the special prosecutor recently appointed to investigate links between Trump associates and Russians, hardly a statement of vindication for the President.

Trump accuses Qatar of ‘funding terrorism’

During the same press conference, Mr Trump accused Qatar of funding terrorism “at a very high level”, and said solving the problem in the gulf nation could be the “beginning of the end of terrorism”.

Launching an extraordinary allegation against a key US military partner, Mr Trump derided what he called Qatar’s “extremist ideology in terms of funding” terrorist groups, an accusation Qatar has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

Mr Trump said Arab leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia last month had urged him to confront Qatar over its behaviour.

“The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding,” Mr Trump said.

“They have to end that funding.”

Speaking in the Rose Garden, Mr Trump said Qatar had “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.” Other US officials have said Qatar has already taken some steps to reduce terror funding but that the steps are insufficient.

It was not immediately clear how Mr Trump’s sharp condemnation might affect US cooperation with Qatar, which hosts some 10,000 US troops and a major US air base that serves as a staging ground for operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Qatari Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to the Associated Press’ request for comment.

AP/Reuters