“Former FBI Director Comey’s written testimony confirms a host of troubling allegations concerning the President’s conduct,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.
In contrast, Senator Richard Burr, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, reportedly reacted to the testimony by saying “I don’t think from what I’ve read there’s anything of wrongdoing,” according to The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino. Burr reportedly added: “I don’t think it’s wrong to ask for loyalty from anybody inside the administration.”
In the testimony, Comey writes that the president brought up former national security advisor Michael Flynn during a meeting at the Oval Office, and asked the then-FBI director to “let this go,” a request that Comey took to mean that Trump wanted the FBI to “drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversation with the Russian ambassador.”
In another recounted exchange, Comey writes that in March the president called him up to say that the federal investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election had created a ‘’cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country” and “asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’”
In his statement reacting to the testimony, Schiff added: “it is not the [FBI] Director’s job to lift the cloud of suspicion over the President’s conduct or that of his associates. The request by the President to do so … represents yet another improper effort to coerce the intelligence agencies to do public relations for the White House and to undermine the independence and integrity of the intelligence community.”
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden told CNN in an interview that the testimony portrays “almost a Watergate-level effort to interfere with an ongoing investigation.”
Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas told BuzzFeed News reporter Lissandra Villa that Comey’s testimony “raises very troubling and disturbing questions about the president’s attempts to make the investigation into Michael Flynn go away.”
While Democrats criticized the president and voiced concerns, however, some congressional Republicans downplayed the suggestion of impropriety and instead focused attention on Comey’s testimony that he “offered” an “assurance” to the president during a January briefing that “we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him,” a notably qualified statement that would not preclude any other kind of investigation, or the opening of such an investigation in the future.
“Former FBI Director Comey’s statement proves what we have already known: President Trump is not under investigation,” Republican Representative Jeff Duncan tweeted.
“Reality check: Comey testimony - he told @POTUS Trump he was not being investigated; POTUS did not ask him to stop Russia investigation,” Republican Representative Peter King wrote on Twitter.