WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday disputed former FBI Director James Comey’s accusations in his Senate testimony and said he would be “100 percent” willing to testify about them under oath before special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump also said he would announce “in a fairly short period of time” if he has tapes of the conversations he had with Comey — evidence that could settle whether Trump or Comey is telling the truth after each have said the other is lying about their interactions.
Shortly after Trump spoke, the House Intelligence Committee announced it had given the White House counsel a June 23 deadline to turn over those recordings, if they exist, for its investigation of Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign’s role.
“No collusion. No obstruction. He’s a leaker. But we want to get back to running our great country,” Trump said in first comments on Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that charged Trump had lied and tried to interfere with FBI’s Russia probe.
“But 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,” Trump said as he stood next to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at a Rose Garden news conference.
Trump’s comments on the testimony echoed his early morning tweet and his private lawyer’s statement that he felt “completely vindicated” when Comey confirmed he had told Trump on three occasions he was not the target of an FBI investigation.
Comey testified that Trump fired him because of the FBI Russia investigation, that the White House defamed him and the FBI with “lies, plain and simple,” and that he took notes of his conversations with Trump because he was concerned the president might lie about them later.
The House Intelligence Committee also requested Comey turn over his notes.
At the news conference, Trump was asked about a private Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting at which Comey said he asked him to let go of the FBI probe of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for false statements about his talks with the Russian ambassador.
“I didn’t say that. I will tell you I didn’t say that,” Trump said. “And there would be nothing wrong if I did say that according to everything I’ve read today. But I did not say that.”
Trump also was asked about a Jan. 27 White House dinner at which Comey said the president he told him “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
Trump said, “I hardly know the man. I’m not going to say ‘I want you to pledge allegiance.’ Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath?”
Asked if he would repeat the denials to Mueller, Trump said, “I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s private legal team lead by his longtime attorney Marc Kasowitz, is preparing to file a complaint with the Justice Department’s inspector general about Comey “leaking” notes of “privileged conversations” with Trump, according to news reports.
Comey testified he had given the notes he took after each one-on-one conversation with Trump to a friend at Columbia Law School to share with reporters to prompt the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Kasowitz also plans to send a complaint to the Senate Judiciary Committee to challenge Comey’s testimony in a May 3 hearing that he had never been an anonymous source for reporters about the probe into Trump’s campaign, the New York Times reported. But Comey didn’t share his notes until May 15, the Times said, and it is unclear if Comey had done anything similar before.
Kasowitz and the White House did not respond Friday to queries.
Robert Ray, the final independent counsel investigating former President Bill Clinton, called the idea of Trump’s attorney filing those complaints “a big distraction.”
“If executive privilege was going to be asserted it would have been served beforehand,” Ray said on MSNBC. Even if it had been served, he said, Trump’s tweets would undo it.