Comey to Congress: President Trump told him "I need loyalty"

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While Trump's staunchest supporters have tried to paint Comey's testimony as vindication for the president, few Republicans who don't work for Trump stepped in to defend the president's version of his contacts with Comey.

But he also said the President's private comments urging him to drop the probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn led him to tell his Justice Department colleagues that they needed to be careful. One day before that, Washington also watched current intelligence officials testify before the same congressional panel - the probe into Russian meddling in the US election and what the president might have asked of his officials dominating the news cycle.

The problem for Trump is that Comey is an experienced public servant with a reputation for rectitude, while Trump is a serial prevaricator whose campaign is now being investigated not only by two congressional committees but by a special counsel whose mandate could be expanded to include the circumstances of Comey's dismissal.

Trump, who had not posted on his Twitter account since Comey accused the administration of spreading "lies", struck back with an early morning tweet in which he said, "Wow, Comey is a leaker". Trump's son, Donald Jr., took to Twitter to criticize Comey. Can't you let this go?

Comey did not make major new revelations about any links between Trump or his associates and Russian Federation, an issue that has dogged the president's first months in office and distracted from his policy goals such as overhauling the United States healthcare system and making tax cuts.

"Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication", Trump tweeted, "and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" This testimony follows reports that Trump had also asked NSA Director Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to suppress or refute the FBI's probe - a claim that both men didn't deny in carefully parsed statements before Congress on Wednesday.

"The hearing raised serious questions about Attorney General Sessions that he and the Justice Department must answer immediately", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a floor speech shortly after the hearing with Comey ended.

Rex Tillerson urges Gulf states to ease Qatar blockade
The Trump administration has given mixed signals on whether to isolate Qatar or bring it into talks with other Gulf nations. On Tuesday, the UAE, Saudi Arabia , and Bahrain also ordered all Qatar Airways offices located in their territory to close.

Equally, Comey was clear that many of Trump's inner circle - including some still in the White House - could be in serious hot water. Comey said he felt compelled to do so after an airport tarmac meeting between former President Bill Clinton and then then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport previous year.

He later said he thought Trump's firing of him was an effort to hinder the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling, which he said was "a big deal".

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's recently hired outside counsel, slammed Comey for "unilaterally and surreptitiously" disseminating the content of his conversations with Trump, arguing that information was "privileged".

"You would think a guy like Comey" would know the difference between "hoping and telling", Donald Trump Jr. said in a Tweet. John Cornyn, meanwhile, focused a share of his questions on Comey's handling of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server. As for the Comey testimony, "there's nothing we can do about it", Zwick said.

TRUMP: "I said, you know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story". But, she said, he was wrong to leak his notes to the public and should have given that document to her panel.

Trump's outside lawyer insisted Thursday that it was Comey who lied when he detailed conversations between himself and the President, raising the accusation that Comey committed perjury while testifying under oath. "We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling". "That happened. It's about as unfake as you can possibly get".