James Comey tells Senate committee Trump lied over reasons for his dismissal

Former FBI director James Comey has told a congressional hearing that Donald Trump fired him to interfere with his investigation into Russia's ties to the Trump campaign, accusing the White House of spreading "lies, plain and simple".

Mr Comey wouldn't buy into whether it represented obstruction of justice, which would be the most risky for Mr Trump.

In an explosive revelation, Mr Comey said that when Mr Trump tweeted of the possible existence of tapes of their conversations, he directed a "good friend" to leak the content of his memos to a journalist.

Trump said he is "100 per cent" willing to testify under oath on Comey meetings and tell the FBI Special Consul Robert Muller that he never asked FBI to stop investigating.

Speaking at a highly anticipated hearing on Capitol Hill, ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation director James B. Comey told lawmakers Thursday that the Trump administration had spread "lies, plain and simple" and "defamed" him and the agency after his firing last month.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don't worry".

"We were also aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic", Comey said, without giving more details.

When reporters asked Mr Trump after the testimony whether he thought Mr Comey was telling the truth, the president did not respond but simply smiled through pursed lips. "I will tell you about it over a very short period of time".

The Democratic National Committee listed the obstruction comment as the day's No. 1 revelation, writing that Comey had "offered the best evidence yet that Trump is under investigation".

As Mr. Comey tells it, the president tried to get him to shut down the investigation of Mr. Flynn's contacts with Russian figures and payments from foreign sources.

Trump has hired Kasowitz to handle matters related to various investigations of Russian interference in the US president election, freeing his White House counsel to handle other government-related matters.

The White House initially blamed Comey's firing on the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the 2016 election. But NPR's Scott Horsley reports that "in fact, Comey's timeline appears to be correct".

Comey said for the first time on Thursday that he had handed over his memos on these conversations to special counsel Mueller. Asked whether Flynn lied to or misled the FBI, Comey demurred, saying that question was the "subject of the criminal inquiry".

Mr Trump's behaviour had compelled him to keep notes of their conversations, he said, confirming that he had held nine one-on-one conversations with Mr Trump in four months, compared to two conversations with Barack Obama.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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