President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he does not remember meeting one-on-one with former FBI Director James Comey at the White House, contradicting Comey’s June Senate testimony, which the president said was “loaded up with lies.”
This isn’t the first time Trump has accused Comey, whom he fired in May, of lying under oath.
In June, Trump denied telling Comey that he “hoped” the top law enforcement official would “let go” of an investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey testified that Trump asked him in a private meeting in February to end his probe into Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after misrepresenting conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to Vice President Mike Pence.
But Trump went further on Wednesday, telling the New York Times that he did not ask to speak with Comey alone in the White House and that he either did not have a tete-a-tete with Comey, or does not remember it, if it happened.
Comey testified that during a visit to the White House in February Trump asked all of his aides to leave the room before sitting the FBI director down for a private conversation in which he asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation.
“Did you shoo other people out of the room when you talked to Comey?” Peter Baker, a Times reporter, asked during an interview at the White House on Wednesday.
“No, no,” Trump responded. “Why would I do that?”
“Did you actually have a one-on-one with Comey then?” Baker pressed.
“Not much. Not even that I remember. He was sitting, and I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff,” Trump said. “He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony. His testimony is loaded up with lies, OK?”
The president also said he thinks that Comey attempted to use a dossier compiled by a former British intelligence official containing unsubstantiated, salacious allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia as leverage over him. Comey reportedly briefed the president on the dossier’s contents during a meeting in January, a few weeks before the inauguration.
“In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump told the Times. When asked if he thought Comey wanted to use it as leverage, Trump said, “Yeah, I think so. In retrospect.”
Trump repeated his accusation that Comey “illegally leaked” information about their communications to the news media. This charge has been disputed by legal experts, who say that the information Comey exposed was not classified and he was a private citizen when he revealed it.