Donald Trump Jr., Paul Ryan, Trump's Lawyer and More Defend President After James Comey's Senate Hearing

The president's lawyer denies his client ever asked Comey for loyalty or told him to let go of the Flynn investigation.

Donald Trump Jr. wrote a slew of tweets defending his father as former FBI director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Paul Ryan, Dan Scavino Jr. and Sarah Huckabee Sanders all defended President Trump as well. After Comey's public testimony concluded, Trump's lawyer Marc Kasowitz read a statement saying Trump denies asking Comey for his loyalty or telling Comey to let the Flynn investigation go.

"The President also never told Mr. Comey, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,' in form or substance," said Kasowitz in his statement. He said that the office of the president is "entitled to expect loyalty" and that it is "overwhelmingly clear" that people in the government are "actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications." Kasowitz accuses Comey of admitting to being one of those leakers.

In his testimony, Comey said he deliberately avoided putting classified information in his memos so he could share them widely. "My thinking was if I write in such a way that won't include anything that trigger classification, that will make it easier to discuss within FBI and government," said Comey.

Kasowitz also claims Trump "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including, the president never suggested Mr. Comey 'let Flynn go.'"

 

Trump Jr. responded to Comey's statement that he took President Trump's words "I hope you can let this go" about the Flynn investigation as an implied direction. "Knowing my father for 39 years when he 'orders or tells' you to do something there is no ambiguity, you will know exactly what he means," said Trump Jr.

"Hoping and telling are two very different things, you would think that a guy like Comey would know that. #givemeabreak," he added. Later, Trump Jr. said that it seems as if the only person having a really bad day is Loretta Lynch.

At his weekly news conference Paul Ryan said, "I would just say that of course there needs to be a degree of independence between [the Department of Justice], FBI and the White House and a line of communications established." He continued, "The president's new at this. He's new to government, and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He's just new to this."

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not agree with Comey's testimony that President Trump lies. In a briefing today, Sanders said, "I can definitely say the president's not a liar."

She told reporters on Thursday afternoon: "In terms of the mood in the White House, I would say that it's a regular Thursday at the White House. We're carrying on."

President Trump did not tweet about Comey's hearing during the open session. CBS News reported he watched the testimony with his lawyer. 

On Tuesday, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa claimed that two White House sources told him the president might respond in real time to what Comey says. 

"I'm told by two WH sources that Pres. Trump does not plan to put down Twitter on Thursday. May live tweet if he feels the need to respond," Costa wrote. During an appearance on MSNBC, he added that White House officials told him that the president essentially "wants to be the messenger, his own warrior, his own lawyer, his own spokesman."

Trump was scheduled to speak at a conservative religious conference at 12:35 pm ET while Comey's hearing began at 10 a.m. ET.

Trump's director of social media Dan Scavino Jr. also took to Twitter during the hearing, tweeting about Hillary Clinton and, like many other conservatives, pointing out that Comey said Trump was not personally under investigation.

Comey's hearing marks his first public statements since he was abruptly dismissed May 9. He released seven pages of prepared testimony Wednesday, with detailed accounts of one-on-one conversations with Trump. In the document, Comey recalls how Trump repeatedly asked him for his "loyalty" and asked him to "lift the cloud" of an ongoing investigation into possible ties between the president's 2016 campaign and Russia. Comey's testimony includes an Oval Office meeting in which Trump urged him not to investigate NSA adviser Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials. He also indicates he did tell Trump he wasn't personally a target of the federal investigation into possible collusion but resisted Trump's appeals to make that public.

CNN's White House correspondent Jim Acosta reported earlier Thursday that Trump's aides said the president would watch part of Comey's testimony but not be glued to the whole thing. Later, David Axelrod said Trump's personal lawyer Kasowitz was at the White House and argued that Kasowitz was likely there to keep Trump from tweeting anything legally risky.

As of Thursday morning, Trump hadn't tweeted since early Wednesday morning, then talking about his planned trip to Cincinnati. While the president didn't comment on Comey's prepared testimony, Kasowitz did say in a statement that Trump was happy about Comey's account and "feels completely and totally vindicated."

"The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the president was not under investigation in any Russian probe," said Kasowitz. "The president feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda."

Sanders on Wednesday said she was unsure if the president read Comey's testimony. Trump has repeatedly indicated he believes the Russia investigation is fake and denied having improper ties to Moscow.

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