The conflict between former FBI Director James Comey and the White House ratcheted up a notch or two Thursday with Comey accusing the administration of lying, and President Trump's personal lawyer lobbing those charges right back.
In his response to Comey's testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, insisted in a statement that "the president … never told Mr. Comey 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty' in any form or substance." Comey quoted Trump as asking for his loyalty in his opening statement, released Wednesday, and expanded on it Thursday while under oath, claiming Trump's insistence was "in the context of asking me to stay" on as FBI director.
"Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in the administration and, before this president took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in the government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications," Kasowitz went on, adding: "Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of those leakers."
Kasowitz also pointed to moments in Comey's testimony that appeared to prove the White House right. "Mr. Comey's testimony … makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election," he said. Comey said Trump expressed his "hope" that Comey would let the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn "go," which Comey said he took as a "direction."
"In sum," Kasowitz concluded, "it is now established that the president was not being investigated for colluding with the [Russians] or attempting to obstruct that investigation. As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the long course of these events."