SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris were among a handful of senators who questioned former FBI Director James Comey Thursday about being fired by President Donald Trump as his agency was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Under oath and before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey expressed that the President told lies in an effort to try to undermine the U.S. Department of Justice, including the FBI in the aftermath of his abrupt firing. He said the president lied when he claimed the FBI was in “disarray” under Comey.
The White House said in response to Comey’s testimony, that the “President is not a liar.”
Democrats Feinstein and Harris have both been critical of any interference by Russia in the U.S. election and took the opportunity on Thursday to squeeze as much information as they could about Trump and Russia from Comey’s testimony.
Comey told Feinstein that the President fired him as a result of the Russia investigation.
“Something about the way I was conducting it, the President felt created pressure on him, that he wanted to relieve,” said Comey.
Read also: Comey Says White House ‘Defamed’ Him And FBI
Feinstein asked Comey about the president’s alleged attempts to hinder the investigation.
At one point, Comey said, “I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
“Okay,” Feinstein said, “You have the President of the United States asking you to stop an investigation, that’s an important investigation.”
Comey said that despite Trump’s hope that the FBI would end the investigation into Michael Flynn, Comey did not end the investigation.
He said he also decided not to let the investigators working on the Russian probe know that Trump didn’t want it investigated, so as not to influence their ongoing investigation.
When it was Harris’ turn to ask questions, she pressed Comey for information regarding any meetings between Russian officials and Trump officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by the White House, whether any Trump campaign officials communicated through encrypted channels with Russian officials, and whether anyone had made attempts to conceal or destroy such communication.
Comey said he was unable to answer any of those questions in an open session as it would touch on “investigative matters.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who also sits on the committee, said following the hearing said that “Director Comey in his testimony…was very clear that the President did not ask him to stop the broader investigation on Russia.”
By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.