Former FBI director Jim Comey testifies at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on his firing and the FBI's investigations into the 2016 election. He said he was "confused" and "concerned" by President Trump's changing explanation for his firing, and more bluntly that the Trump administration had lied when they said the rank-and-file agents of the FBI had lost confidence in him as director.
"It confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation."
"Although the law requires no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI, by saying the agency was in disarray, poorly managed, the workforce had lost confidence in its leader," Comey said.. "Those were lies, plain and simple."
"I am so sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you publicly," Comey said to the agents of the FBI.
JAMES COMEY: They confused me because the president and I had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office. And he had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and he hoped I would stay. And I had repeatedly assured him that I did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term.
He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current attorney general, and had learned that I was doing a great job and that I was extremely well-liked by the FBI workforce.
So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation and learned, again, from the media that he was telling, privately, other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russia investigation.
I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly, that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn't make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made. That didn't make any sense to me.
And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.
Those were lies, plain and simple, and I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them and I'm so sorry that the American people were told them.
I worked every day at the FBI to help make that great organization better. And I say "help" because I did nothing alone at the FBI. There are no indispensable people at the FBI. The organization's great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide.
The FBI will be fine without me. The FBI's mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.