In a highly anticipated congressional hearing, former FBI Director James Comey gave blunt answers to questions about his interactions with President Donald Trump, the circumstances around his own firing and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
And though Comey released his written testimony the day before the hearing, his answers still rang loud across the Twitter-sphere and elsewhere. Here are the most talked-about moments of the testimony.
10:20 a.m. ‘Those were lies, plain and simple.’
Some of Comey’s earliest remarks would end up being those most widespread. In his opening statement, he said while he intended to return to life as a private citizen, he rejoined the conversation because of what Trump has said publicly about his firing: “Those were lies plain and simple.” He went on to say that the White House “chose to defame me and the FBI.”
Comey describes being “confused” by firing, “lies” about FBI being in disarray pic.twitter.com/EEDkxhKwvN— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 8, 2017
"So it confused me when I saw on television that the president actually fired me because of the Russia investigation": Comey— Emily Ngo (@epngo) June 8, 2017
Comey says Trump administration "chose to defame me" #comeyDay— Laura Figueroa (@Laura_Figueroa) June 8, 2017
"Those were lies plain and simple" !!!!— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) June 8, 2017
History made: Former FBI director calls a sitting president a liar.— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) June 8, 2017
Highlight so far, right at the start, Comey testifies that President Trump “lied" (about the FBI being in disarray).— Dan Rather (@DanRather) June 8, 2017
So, what was it that Trump said? Comey said the Trump administration had contended that the FBI was in “disarray” and that the bureau’s agents had lost faith in Comey.
James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
10:51 a.m. A Trump response – but not the one we were expecting
It was widely expected that Trump would tweet during the hearing, but he never did. Instead, at about an hour in, his son Donald Trump Jr. sent out a string of tweets in response to the testimony about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
1/3 Flynn stuff is BS in context 2 guys talking about a guy they both know well. I hear "I hope nothing happens but you have to do your job"— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
2/3 very far from any kind of coercion or influence and certainly not obstruction!— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
3/3 Knowing my father for 39 years when he "orders or tells" you to do something there is no ambiguity, you will know exactly what he means— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
Hoping and telling are two very different things, you would think that a guy like Comey would know that. #givemeabreak— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
And people took notice.
Trump didn't tweet during the #ComeyHearings but Donald Trump Jr. tweeted/re-tweeted FIFTY times— Kira Lerner (@kira_lerner) June 8, 2017
Today @DonaldJTrumpJr became the Press Secretary— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 8, 2017
Thanks. That was fun. https://t.co/3eTGhT7omg— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
11:02 a.m. ‘Lordy, I hope there are tapes’
Comey was trying to defend that, in a conversation with the president about the Flynn investigation, he agreed that Flynn was a “good guy.” Comey explained that he had been trying to choose his words carefully during the conversation, which had made him uncomfortable. He then referred to a tweet by Trump in May, which implied there may be tapes of those conversations.
Comey: "What was playing in my mind was what should be my response" jokes that he hopes there are Oval Office tapes to prove conversation— Laura Figueroa (@Laura_Figueroa) June 8, 2017
CORRECTION: We neglected to include Comey's use of the word "Lordy." We apologize for the error. pic.twitter.com/s7xZQxCt50— VICE News (@vicenews) June 8, 2017
It wasn’t Comey’s only instance of enjoyable language.
Comey so far:— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 8, 2017
“seagulls at the beach”
And this from a guy who started the hearing looking like this.
We can all agree with Jim Comey that, Lordy, we hope there are tapes.— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) June 8, 2017
11:24 a.m. Comey orchestrated a leak
Comey said that he asked a close friend to share the contents of a memo to a reporter, hoping that it would prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Comey says he asked a close friend to share the contents of a memo to a reporter to prompt special prosecutor appointment— Emily Ngo (@epngo) June 8, 2017
Can’t remember the last time someone in DC openly acknowledged orchestrating a leak — and without any senator having even asked.— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) June 8, 2017
JUST IN: Columbia U professor Dan Richman confirms to @washingtonpost he was the friend Comey asked to share info about his mtg w/ Trump.— Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost) June 8, 2017
"I was worried it would be like feeding the seagulls at the beach," Comey says of personally handing over memos amid press stakeout. Thanks?— Emily Ngo (@epngo) June 8, 2017
Newsy: Comey says he gave all of his memos, documents, etc. to the special counsel. #ComeyHearing— Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost) June 8, 2017
Comey admits he asked a friend to leak his conversation w/ Trump about Flynn to a reporter. A bombshell the sluggish Senators are ignoring.— Bill O'Reilly (@billoreilly) June 8, 2017
12:40 p.m. A confusing McCain exchange
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) started down a line of questioning about the Hillary Clinton investigation that caused Comey to ask for clarification multiple times and sent Twitter’s head scratching.
Sen. John McCain questions Comey, repeatedly raising his confusion over why Clinton probe has been completed, and why Russia probe has not.— Laura Figueroa (@Laura_Figueroa) June 8, 2017
What road is McCain trying to travel?— Dan Janison (@Danjanison) June 8, 2017
McCain appears to be saying there's a double standard because there is no ongoing investigation about Clinton and…Russia?— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 8, 2017
Whatever you think of the questions from every other Sen on the committee, they all made sense. McCain's remarks were a departure from that.— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) June 8, 2017
Sen. McCain's questioning of Comey was a bit … confusing. The Internet expressed concern; McCain blamed baseball.— NPR (@NPR) June 8, 2017
11:47 a.m. Does ‘hope’ mean order? And was it obstruction?
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) and Comey shared a moment when the former asked if Comey took Trump’s words on the Flynn investigation as a directive. According to one of Comey’s memos, Trump had said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Angus asked Comey whether he viewed the president’s “hope” as an order. Comey said yes, and proceeded to quote a line attributed to King Henry II in 1170.
#ComeyTestimony (When president says I hope you will drop it did you take it as directive?) Yes/Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest— Christian Fraser (@ChristianFraser) June 8, 2017
Comey says Trump on Flynn recalled Henry II "will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) June 8, 2017
The priest was dead the next day.
WOW did not think WHO WILL RELIEVE ME OF THIS MEDDLESOME PRIEST would get a shout out but here we are!— Emily Tamkin (@emilyctamkin) June 8, 2017
Angus marvels that he was about to say the same thing.
But on a more serious note, by saying that he understood Trump’s “hope” that Comey could “let this go” to be an order, Comey contradicted other statements he made.
Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) earlier asked Comey if he thought Trump’s remarks were an obstruction of justice.
Comey says he did not construe Trump's words re Flynn probe to be a direction or order— Emily Ngo (@epngo) June 8, 2017
Now: "I took this as a direction"— Emily Ngo (@epngo) June 8, 2017