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Comey hearing

Comey: I took Trump's Flynn request as an order

A key question emerging from former FBI Director James B. Comey’s testimony about his talks with President Trump: Did the president’s requests to lay off an investigation amount to obstruction of justice?

Comey would not make a conclusion, saying that was a decision for Robert Mueller III, the special counsel now overseeing the investigation into possible collusion by Trump associates in the Russian scheme to influence the election.

Under questioning by Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), Comey conceded that Trump asked him to let go the FBI’s probe into former national security advisor Michael Flynn – and did not give a direct order. Comey also allowed that he did not know of anyone convicted of a crime for wishing for something to happen.

But Comey was careful to point out that he was only reporting Trump’s words, and not what he understood as the thrust of his statements.

“I took it as a direction,” he said. “This is the president and me alone, and he says, this is what I want you to do.”

Comey also said that he believed that Trump regretted telling Comey that he wanted him to stay “without getting anything for it” – and so pressured him to swear his loyalty at a private dinner.

“My common sense told he, what’s going on here, he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.”

He said the request was disturbing. The FBI director is given a 10-year term to preserve the agency's independence from politics, he said.

“The statue of justice has a blindfold on because you’re not supposed to be peeking out to see if your patron is pleased with what you’re doing,” he said.

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