Former FBI Director James Comey's much-anticipated congressional hearing has finally come to an end.
Both his written statement and answers to questions brought up by attending senators brought to light some important details about the bureau's probe into Russia's alleged interference in the United States presidential election. But most importantly, they helped us to better understand the complicated relationship between Comey and President Donald Trump.
Here's a list of the five most important takeaways from the former FBI director's hearing in case you weren't watching it as it unfolded.
1. Trump Pressed Comey On Michael Flynn Because The President Wasn't Under Investigation
In his written statement, Comey said he personally told Trump about the FBI's Russia probe prior to his inauguration so the president wouldn't come “into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.”
Later, however, the president and Comey had a one-on-one conversation over a dinner in which Trump said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
In a following meeting, Trump brought up his former national security adviser, Flynn, telling Comey that Flynn was a “good guy and has been through a lot.” He next told the then-FBI director he hoped he could see a way to let the Flynn portion of the Russia investigation go.
While Comey confirmed during the hearing that he told the president Flynn was, indeed, “a good guy,” he did not tell Trump he would let the probe go as part of the broader investigation into Russian meddling.
2. No Confirmation That Obstruction Of Justice Occurred, 'That's Bob Mueller's Job' To Sort It Out
During the hearing, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) asked whether comments made by the president during their conversations rise to the level of obstruction of justice, which could strengthen the impeachment case being made by some members of Congress. Comey then answered, saying “[t]hat's Bob Mueller's job to sort that out,” referring to Special Counsel Mueller's investigation into Russia.
He had said earlier he didn't think it was up to him “to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct."
3. Comey Encouraged Friend To Leak Information On His Dealings With The President
Afraid Trump would “lie about the nature of our meeting,” Comey gave his good friend, Daniel Richman, a professor at Columbia University, information about their personal dealings, encouraging him to leak the information to The New York Times. This may settle any doubts concerning who leaked this particular information to the press.
Daniel Richman, Columbia Law professor, confirms to me via email that he leaked the contents of the Comey memos— Kelsey Sutton (@kelseymsutton) June 8, 2017
4. Comey Hopes Trump Releases Tapes Of Their Conversations
When asked about Trump's tweet regarding the existence of tapes of their conversations, Comey replied, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."
Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) then asked whether Comey felt Trump's tweets served as an intimidation tool against him, to which he replied: “I'm not going to sit here and try to interpret the president's tweets."
However, he added, after he saw the tweet, "it occurred to me in the middle of the night: Holy cow, there might be tapes. And if there are tapes, it's not just my word against his."
When asked if he would be OK with the tapes being released, he said he was “good with it.”
5. The Trump Administration Attempted To Smear Comey's Reputation
During the hearing, Comey expressed frustration over the way he was portrayed by the administration after being fired.
Saying Trump and his aides have tried to “defame” his reputation, he also said that the notions that the FBI was in disarray over Comey's conduct while serving as the director of the bureau were all “lies.”
“Those were lies, plain and simple,” he stated.
BREAKING: Comey: Trump administration chose to `defame' me and FBI using `lies, plain and simple'— The Associated Press (@AP) June 8, 2017
With Mueller's investigation under way, it's safe to say Comey's testimony and statement have only given us a small glimpse into what might be at stake, especially if he's right about Russia having attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections.
During the hearing, Comey said Russians hacked the election "with purpose, they did it with sophistication, they did it with overwhelming technical efforts."
Adding that they will be back, the former FBI director emphasized that this fight isn't partisan, and that foreign elements are "going to come for whatever party they choose to try to work on the behalf of."
"They're coming after America," he concluded.
Now that we know for a fact that the Trump administration was obviously not ready to handle the FBI looking so closely into its own inner circle over the Russia probe, all that's left for us to find out is if Comey's answers will serve as grounds for future action against the president. And if, perhaps, his warnings about Russia will, indeed, materialize.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters