Breaking news: Comey begins Senate testimony on Trump, Russia

NATION

Breaking news: Comey begins Senate testimony on Trump, Russia

UPDATED: Thu., June 8, 2017

In this Feb. 25, 2016, file photo, then-FBI Director James Comey, testifies before a House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee budget hearing about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s FY 2017 budget. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)
In this Feb. 25, 2016, file photo, then-FBI Director James Comey, testifies before a House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee budget hearing about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s FY 2017 budget. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

Editor’s note: Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump, will testify today before the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating the details surrounding the allegations that Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign team to influence the election. We will be updating details of that hearing throughout the day and will update this report as news happens.

All times are EDT

10:18 a.m.

WASHINGTON – Former FBI Director James Comey has begun his much-anticipated congressional testimony under oath.

Comey is expected to recount a series of interactions with President Donald Trump in the weeks before his firing that he will say made him uncomfortable.

Those include a January dinner in which he says Trump asked him for his loyalty, and a White House conversation weeks later in which he says Trump asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

10:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump will dispute key parts of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony.

That’s according to a person close to the president’s legal team.

The person says the president disputes Comey’s claim that he asked him for loyalty. Trump also disputes Comey’s account of a conversation about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.

The person demanded anonymity because the person is not authorized to be named in a discussion about legal strategy.

10:00 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey has arrived in a Senate hearing room where he will deliver long-awaited testimony about his dramatic firing.

Senators will ask Comey about his interactions with President Donald Trump before he was fired in May.

Comey says he had a series of uncomfortable conversations with Trump. He says Trump asked him for a pledge of loyalty and pushed him to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s ties with Moscow.

Comey’s remarks are his first since he was fired.

7:30 a.m.

The ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee says former FBI director James Comey’s account of his conversations with the president about the Russia investigation are “disturbing.”

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia will emphasize at Thursday’s committee hearing that the American people need to realize that what happened was that a president asked an FBI director to drop an ongoing investigation into a former national security adviser.

Warner released excerpts of his opening remarks to the committee early Thursday ahead of the hearing.

Warner says that in violation of clear guidelines put in place after Watergate to prevent any whiff of political interference by the White House in FBI investigations, President Donald Trump also called Comey twice to ask him to lift the cloud of the Russia investigation over his White House.

6:45 a.m.

A Senate Democrat is cautioning members of Congress against asserting too hastily that President Donald Trump has engaged in acts that could constitute obstruction of justice in the investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware says, “I think we have to be careful about making legal conclusions” and argues that lawmakers should not be “getting in the way“ of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller (MUHL’-ur).

But Coons also tells MSNBC in an interview, hours before fired FBI Director James Comey’s Capitol Hill appearance, that he believes Trump’s words and deeds go “right up to the line” of legality. The senator adds that statements about the Russia probe attributed to Trump by Comey raise the question of whether the president’s actions “meet the legal standard for obstruction of justice.”

6:05 a.m.

The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee says former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on President Donald Trump’s conduct “is certainly evidence of interference or obstruction.”

Comey is testifying Thursday that Trump urged him to back off from his investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russians. Comey’s written statement released ahead of his testimony said Trump had described the Russia investigation as a “cloud” that was interfering with his job. Comey is testifying that he gave Trump no such assurance. Trump fired him last month.

Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, made his assessment Wednesday in an interview with The Washington Post. Schiff added that even if Trump’s actions met the legal test for obstruction, in practical terms it was less likely that the Republican-controlled Congress would move to remove him.

3:45 a.m.

In a hugely anticipated hearing, fired FBI director James Comey will recount a series of conversations with President Donald Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.

The testimony, Comey’s first public statements since his May 9 dismissal, is likely to bring hours of uncomfortable attention to an administration shadowed for months by an investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

His account of demands for loyalty from the president, and of requests to end an investigation into an embattled adviser, are likely to sharpen allegations that Trump improperly sought to influence the FBI-led probe.