June 8 (Reuters) - Former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday accused the Trump administration of defaming him and telling lies about the agency, but declined to offer his opinion on whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct justice by asking him to drop an investigation into the former national security advisor. STORY: KEY POINTS:
* Comey said Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job.
* Comey said administration chose to defame him and FBI by saying organization was in disarray. Comey said ”those were lies, plain and simple’.
* Comey said he has no doubt Russia interfered with U.S. election. Comey says he is confident no votes cast in 2016 election were altered
* Comey says it is not for him to say whether Trump tried to obstruct justice in their conversations
* Comey says found conversations with Trump very disturbing
* Comey says Trump did not ask him to stop Russia investigation
* Comey says FBI became aware of Russia cyber intrusion in late summer of 2015
TIM KAINE, DEMOCRAT U.S. SENATOR FROM VIRGINIA, ON VERIFIED TWITTER ACCOUNT “Trump and his team brought their own cloud in with them. It’s not the investigation that’s the cloud. It’s their own actions. #ComeyDay”
TERRY SANDVEN, CHIEF EQUITY STRATEGIST AT U.S. BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT IN MINNEAPOLIS.
“Today is about Washington and the drama surrounding former FBI director James Comey’s testimony and the talk about the demise of President Trump’s presidency or growth agenda seems premature, short of a smoking gun.
”I think after today’s testimony, focus will quickly shift back to his pro-growth agenda, mainly less regulation, tax reform, healthcare reform and infrastructure spending.
”But clearly all eyes are on Washington and I expect equities to generally trend sideways today short of any new revelations coming out of the testimony.”
STOCKS: Stocks were little changed as Comey’s testimony kicked off, trading slightly lower-to-flat. BONDS: U.S. Treasury prices were lower ahead of Comey’s testimony and pared losses as he testified. FOREX: The dollar strengthened against a basket of currencies and then pared gains slightly as Comey’s testimony began.