A defiant President Trump on Friday addressed the swirling controversy over ousted FBI Director James Comey and said he would be willing “100 percent” to testify under oath about his version of events.
Trump’s comments add fuel to a dramatic he-said, he-said showdown with the former top cop by flatly denying much of what Comey said under oath a day earlier.
“He’s a leaker,” Trump said in the White House Rose Garden, during a news conference with the visiting Romanian president. “Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction.”
Comey implied he had been fired from his post for pursuing the Russia investigation but stopped short of alleging obstruction of justice. Comey suggested that matter would be considered by the special prosecutor recently appointed to investigate links between Trump associates and Russians.
Comey also said the president demanded loyalty from him during a private conversation he had with the president.
Trump denied that took place.
The president also said he would not rule out his previous claims that there may be tapes of the conversation with Comey and told reporters, “Well, I’ll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.”
He added: “Oh you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don’t worry.”
On Thursday, Comey said under oath that Trump had lied multiple times to him and was “confused” when Trump said in May that he was firing him over low morale in the agency.
“The administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly, the FBI by saying the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader,” Comey said.
Trump also retweeted a comment from attorney Alan Dershowitz, who had written: “We should stop talking about obstruction of justice. No plausible case. We must distinguish crimes from” political “sins.”
Trump was uncharacteristically quiet during Comey’s thundering Senate testimony.
But the counter-punching president gave a taste of his Comey rebuttal in a tart tweet Friday morning.
He hit the key points previously outlined by his personal lawyer in a lengthier statement issued after Thursday’s hearing – that Comey gave misleading testimony in parts, but also backed up the president’s claims that he “never sought to impede” the Russia investigation.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump tweeted.
During Friday’s wide-ranging press conference, Trump also publically confirmed his commitment to NATO’s mutual defense pact – something he did not do during the alliance’s gathering in Belgium last month.
Trump began Friday’s press conference by accusing Qatar, a key U.S. military partner, of funding terrorism “at a very high level,” and said solving problems in the tiny Persian Gulf national could be “the beginning of the end of terrorism.”
Trump said Arab leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia last month had urged him to confront Qatar over its behavior.
“The time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding,” Trump said. “They have to end that funding.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.