United States’ Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, currently testifying before Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Thursday that President Donald Trump lied to the American public when he said that the FBI was in disarray and that agents had lost confidence in him, reported The New York Times. “Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey said.

Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, said he thought the president’s words to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia were an order.

“I didn’t obey that,” Comey said. “But that’s what I thought.” Comey also said he had been aware of Russian cyber intrusion in the US from the summer of 2015. He said he had “no doubt” Russia had interfered with the presidential election.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his firing, Comey said he believed he was sacked because of the Russia investigation. “I take the president at his word that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” he said. “I take him at his word, based on what I know now.’’

Talking about Trump’s tweet of May 12, Comey said he hoped that the president was serious when he said that there might be tapes of the conversation. “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Trump telling his supporters, “We are under siege...but we will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever.”

In his testimony, Comey said he documented all his meetings with Trump and took notes as he thought Trump would lie about what he said. Comey, who has served in senior law enforcement positions under three presidents, said it was unusual for him to be discussing the ongoing investigations alone with Trump.

“The combination of factors just wasn’t present with either President Bush or President Obama,” he said. Comey said he was confused and concerned when Trump changed his explanations on why he fired him. Comey said he had learned of his firing through the media.

He also offered a farewell to his former employees and colleagues. “I am so sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye to you publicly,” Comey said.

Later, Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, went on a Twitter rampage to defend his father and referred to the testimony as a joke.

Some of the other things Comey said:

  • “I knew that there might come a day when I needed a record of what happened [with Trump], not just to defend myself but to defend the FBI.”
  • “There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election in the 2016 election cycle.... it is a high-confidence judgment...it’s not a close call. This is about America, not about any political party.”
  • When asked if Russia had figured in Comey’s firing, Comey said, “Yes, because I’ve seen the president say so.”
  • He said he was asked to publicly establish that Trump was not being investigated. 
  • Politician Marco Rubio broke down Trump’s requests to Comey as, 1) be loyal, 2) let Michael Flynn go, and 3) tell the public he [Trump] was not being investigated. Comey says, “Those are the three things he asked, yes sir.” 
  • “I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty, but I don’t know that I’d go so far as to connect it to the [Russia] investigation.”
  • Comey on the Republicans: “They’ll be back...they’re not devoted to either party, they’re just working to their own advantage and they will be back.”
  • “The president surely knows whether he taped me, and if he did my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all the tapes, I’m good with it.”