In his opening remarks, Comey flashed anger at Trump's characterization of him as unpopular among the rank and file of the FBI as well as the idea that the bureau was disorganized and chaotic.
"Those were lies. Plain and simple," Comey said flatly.
Then, when asked by Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) why he felt the need to document his meetings with Trump when he didn't do the same with past presidents, Comey responded: "I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting."
In the second hour of the hearings and while under questioning from Maine Sen. Angus King (I), Comey directly disputed three more claims by Trump:
- That Comey had sought the Feb. 14 meeting with Trump to ask to stay on as FBI director
- That Comey ever reached out to Trump via phone
- That Trump's "No, no. Next question" assertion about whether he asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation was true
Sit with that.
What you see is a former FBI director repeatedly calling the president a liar -- and acknowledging that his concerns about Trump's willingness to bend (or break) the truth led him to repeatedly document their interactions.
That's stunning stuff.
Worth noting: Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday in an off-camera briefing
that "I can definitely say the president is not a liar and frankly I'm insulted by that question."
This is Washington. Politicians -- and those longtime members of the political swirl like Comey -- would rather cut off a finger than call another political person a liar. And yet, Comey has now done so five(!) times.
That's a very big deal -- and speaks not just to the fractured relationship between Trump and Comey but also to the remarkable unconventionality of Trump and the ways in which the oddness of his approach to the presidency impacts others around him.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to remove quotation marks around the word liar.