Trump lawyer says US president didn’t ask Comey for loyalty

President rails against Comey testimony, telling faithful ‘we will never give up’

US president Donald Trump has hit back at explosive testimony delivered by former FBI chief James Comey on Thursday, stating that he never asked the former FBI chief for loyalty and quashing claims that he sought to halt an investigation into former national security chief Mike Flynn.

Speaking following Mr Comey’s public testimony on Thursday in Washington, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Mark Kasowitz said that Mr Trump had never asked former FBI chief James Comey for “loyalty.” He also disputed claims that he had asked Mr Comey to “lay off” investigations of Mike Flynn, either in “form or substance,” though he said the president did accept that he had said to Mr Comey that Mr Flynn was a “good guy.”

We're under siege . . . but we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever - Donald Trump

“The President also never told Mr Comey, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty’ in form or substance,” Mr Kasowitz said. “Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”

Mr Kasowitz was referring to Mr Comey’s confirmation during the hearing that he had given a memo he had taken of his conversation with Mr Trump on February 14th in the Oval Office to a friend to share with the media.


President Trump, in a speech across town on Thursday told supporters their movement was “under siege” and vowed to fight on. “We’re under siege . . . but we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever,” he said during a separate speech in Washington. “We will not back down from doing what is right . . . we know how to fight and we will never give up.”

Mr Trump’s defiant response to today’s testimony by the former FBI chief comes just hours after Mr Comey accused US president Donald Trump of spreading “lies” about him and the organisation he formerly headed

Mr Comey, who was fired by Mr Trump on May 9th, said that his administration “chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led. These were lies plain and simple.”

Mr Trump’s behaviour had compelled him to keep notes of their conversations, he added. “I was honestly concerned he might lie about our meeting,” he said.

Under question by the bipartisan committee - one of four congressional committees examining Russian interference in the election - Mr Comey said he believed that his handling of the Russian investigation into interference in the 2016 election was the reason he was fired by Mr Trump.

“I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that,” he said.

The Trump administration initially claimed that the reason Mr Comey was fired was because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email server scandal, but the US president later said in an interview with NBC that it was also connected to “this Russian thing.”

While Mr Comey repeated his assertion in written testimony submitted to the committee on Wednesday that Mr Trump had asked him to “let go” of the investigation into former national security advisor Mike Flynn during a meeting in the Oval office on February 14th, after asking other people present to leave the room, the 56 year-old former intelligence official declined to say if he believed this amounted to an obstruction of justice. Instead, that was a matter for special counsel Rob Mueller he said.

Mr Comey was also pressed, but declined to comment, on other connected issues relating to the Russian investigation during the two-and-a-half hour hearing.

He declined to answer questions about the dossier compiled by former British agent Christopher Steele, alleging salacious details about Mr Trump’s behavior in Russia which was later proven to be false.

Similarly he would not be drawn on further details about the FBI investigation into former national security advisor Mike Flynn, save to say it was a “criminal” investigation.

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent