WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump’s personal attorney disputed key points of the testimony of former FBI director James Comey on Thursday and attacked Comey for leaking information to the media.
Comey accused Trump of firing him to try to undermine the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign. Comey said Trump pressured him to drop an investigation of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn and told Comey that he needed his loyalty even though FBI directors are supposed to work independently from the White House.
Trump did not directly comment on the allegations, but his personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, tried to discredit Comey’s testimony.
“The president never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone,” Kasowitz said in a brief appearance before television cameras. “The president also never told Mr. Comey, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ He never said it in form and he never said it in substance.”
Kasowitz said Comey’s testimony made it clear that Trump was not being investigated for collusion with Russian officials and that the president felt “completely vindicated.”
The attorney also attacked Comey for testifying that he used a friend to leak to a reporter his notes on a meeting with Trump.
Kasowitz said the leak contained “privileged communications with the president.”
“We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated,” Kasowitz said.
Legal experts questioned Kasowitz’s contention that Trump’s private encounters with Comey should be considered privileged communications.
Comey said he had hoped the leak would prompt the appointment of a special counsel, which later occurred.
Kasowitz is playing a lead role in handling Trump’s responses to the Russia investigation. He was with Trump at the White House on Thursday to watch Comey’s televised testimony.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler