James Comey refuses to publicly answer whether he believes Trump colluded with Russia

James Comey, the former FBI director, said Thursday he could not answer “in an open setting” whether he believes President Donald Trump “colluded with Russia.”

During Comey’s blockbuster Thursday testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked the ousted FBI director, “Do you believe Donald Trump colluded with Russia?”

“That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting,” Comey responded. “As I said, when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump. But that’s a question that will be answered by the investigation I think.”

Comey oversaw the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Trump fired Comey in early May, later telling Russian diplomats that the firing took “great pressure” off of him with regards to the Russia probe.

But Comey said in written testimony released Wednesday that he told Trump on three occasions, which Trump had previously stated, that the president was not personally under a counterintelligence investigation. Trump was dismayed that Comey would not admit that fact publicly, but Comey’s reason for not doing so was that it would require a public correction if that status were to change, and Trump was swept into the investigation.

Watch the comment:

Q: Do you believe that Trump colluded with Russia?

Comey: “That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an open setting.” pic.twitter.com/Ee2giR2Klb
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 8, 2017

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