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Claiming vindication, Trump answers Comey testimony with denials

June 9, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
President Trump spoke out publicly a day after former FBI Director James Comey Friday testified that to protect against lies by Mr. Trump, he had taken detailed notes, some of which he leaked in hopes of prompting the naming of a special counsel. The president fired back over Twitter and at a news conference, claiming that some of the things Comey said weren’t true. William Brangham reports.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The high-stakes struggle between President Trump and fired FBI Director James Comey is our top story again tonight.

The president has answered Comey’s Senate testimony with outright denials, new talk of possible tapes, and a pledge to tell his story under oath.

William Brangham has the story.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No collusion, no obstruction. He’s a leaker.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president publicly broke his silence about James Comey’s testimony today in a Rose Garden news conference with Klaus Iohannis, the president of Romania.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We were very, very happy, and, frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren’t true.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The fired FBI director yesterday testified several things: that he took detailed notes of his conversations with the president to protect against Mr. Trump lying about what was said. He said he leaked some of those notes last month, hoping to prompt the naming of a special counsel.

JAMES COMEY, Former Director, FBI: I need to get that out into the public square.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: He did tell President Trump several times that he wasn’t specifically under investigation. And Comey testified, the president pressured him to end the probe of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

QUESTION: He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn — you said you hoped the Flynn investigation, he could let go.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I didn’t say that.

QUESTION: So he lied about that?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I didn’t say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn’t say that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The president also denied asking Comey for a pledge of loyalty. And he was asked directly if he has recordings of their conversations as he’s hinted before.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m not hinting anything. I will tell you about it over a very short period of time. OK?

QUESTION: When will you tell us about the recordings?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Over a fairly short period of time.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Are there tapes, sir?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Oh, you’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don’t worry.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Conservative media conservative news outlets and a number of Republicans backed Mr. Trump over Comey.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows:

REP. MARK MEADOWS,  R-N.C.: I think it was actually a day that vindicated the president, when you have Director Comey three times saying that he wasn’t under investigation.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Republican Senator Susan Collins, who’s on the Intelligence Committee, said Comey was wrong to leak his notes, but she defended him as well.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS,  R-Maine: I found him to be credible, candid and thorough. It doesn’t mean that every memory he has is exactly right or that there aren’t different interpretations. But he testified under oath.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: This led to another question for the president.

QUESTION: So, he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: One hundred percent.

QUESTION: So, if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that …

(CROSSTALK)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you, Jon.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: On the other side of the aisle, Democrats pounced on Comey’s claims about the president.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

REP. NANCY PELOSI,  D-Calif., House Minority Leader: I think there’s no question he abused power. Whether he obstructed justice remains for the facts to come forward. And that’s what we want, are the facts.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Meanwhile, leaders of the House Intelligence Committee asked Comey for his notes and memos. They also asked the White House for any memos or recordings of the meetings, if they exist.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.

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