Comey used those blunt words to describe the aftermath of his firing by Trump on May 9 as he began his testimony on Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
At first, he took his firing in stride, Comey said, until the “shifting explanations” for his ousting confused and increasingly concerned him, particularly after being repeatedly told by Trump that he was doing a great job.
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“So it confused me when I saw on television, the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation. And learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russia investigation,” said Comey.
The explanation that Comey had, in part, been fired because of his decisions during the election year, “didn’t make any sense to me.”
While he respected that the president can fire the FBI director at any time for any reason, Comey said, the aftermath made the situation unacceptable.
“And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader,” said Comey.
“Those were lies plain and simple. And I’m so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry the American people were told them.”
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Comey also said he wrote the memos following his interactions with Trump because he was worried the president would lie about the “nature” of their meetings.
The memos, later leaked to the public, detailed that the president had asked Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia and that Trump had asked the then-FBI director to pledge his loyalty to the president.
Comey’s testimony is part of the Senate committee’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and ties with Trump’s campaign team.
— With a file from the Associated Press
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