Donald Trump has responded to testimony from ex-FBI chief for the first time. He denied James Comey's more incendiary allegations and said he was "100 percent" prepared to testify himself.
US President Donald Trump on Friday denied multiple allegations leveled by former FBI Director James Comey, saying he was prepared to testify under oath to give his version of events.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since 18 million Americans watched Comey's testimony before the Senate, Trump called the former FBI head a "liar" and said he never asked him to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn over his contacts with Russia.
"I didn't say that," Trump said at a press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House. "And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I read today, but I did not say that."
'Who would do that?'
Comey on Thursday told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he was fired by Trump in May over his handling of alleged Russian meddling in the US election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. He also said Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn but steered clear of accusing the president of obstruction of justice.
"No collusion, no obstruction," Trump told the press conference, referencing allegations his campaign cooperated with the Russians and then tried to halt an investigation. Obstruction of justice is a potentially impeachable offense.
Comey also told the Senate panel that Trump asked for his "loyalty," a request that some argue would put the independence of the FBI in question.
"I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that?" Trump said at the news conference.
In his sole tweet on Comey's testimony to date, Trump had called Comey a "leaker" for passing memos of one-on-one talks with Trump to a lawyer who then provided them to a reporter, also saying he felt Comey's words amounted to "total and complete vindication."
Comey claimed he leaked the notes calculating that publication of a story would trigger calls for an independent special prosecutor, which ultimately happened.
When asked if he would testify under oath to special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is also a former FBI director, Trump said: "100 percent."
The mystery tweet 'tapes'
But Trump refrained from confirming that he had records of conversations with Comey as he previously implied.
"Well, I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future," Trump said. "I'm not hinting anything."
Speculation over the tapes is rooted in a particularly cryptic tweet from the US president issued almost a month ago, seeming to suggest he might hold recordings of the conversations.
Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee asked on Friday for Comey's memos to be handed over, and separately sent a letter to the White House demanding any "recordings or memoranda" of conversations with Comey that Trump or the White House may or may not possess.
Under US law, presidential records are public and cannot be destroyed without prior approval.
Asked on Thursday at the hearing about the prospect of the conversations having been recorded, Comey replied: "Lordy, I hope there are tapes!"
In the Senate hearing, Comey refrained from disclosing any links between Trump advisers and alleged Russian meddling. The investigation was still ongoing when Comey was fired in early May.
cw/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)