June 13, 2017
*-- Trump on Comey accusation: 'I didn't say that' --*
In his first public remarks since the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump promised Friday that he will testify if asked -- and said some of the things the former bureau chief said under oath weren't true.
Trump made the remarks during a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at the White House Friday afternoon.
The president and Iohannis first spoke of cooperation between the two countries in fighting terrorism, but the conference quickly turned to the Russia investigation when Trump opened the gathering for questions.
When a reporter asked about Comey, Trump again said he never asked for the Justice Department's Russia probe to be dropped -- an act that experts say could constitute an obstruction of justice.
"No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker, but we want to get back to running our great country," the president responded.
Earlier Friday, Trump said via Twitter that Comey's testimony Thursday before the Senate Committee on Intelligence supported his statements.
"Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication...and WOW, Comey is a leaker!" the tweet said.
At the Friday news conference, Trump said he planned to talk in "the very near future" about whether audiotapes exist from his Feb. 14 conversation with Comey -- a discussion at which the former FBI chief says Trump told him he hoped Justice Department investigators would "let go" former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
"I didn't say that," Trump said emphatically Friday. "There would be nothing wrong if I did say that, according to everybody that I've read today, but I did not say that."
That statement stands in stark contrast to Comey's.
"Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey told the panel Thursday, emphasizing his belief that the president asked him to shut down the investigation.
Friday, Trump said some of Comey's remarks were true and some weren't.
"Yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction. We are doing really well," he said. "That was an excuse by the Democrats, who lost an election that some people think they shouldn't have lost.
"Frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things he said just weren't true."
One of the things Comey told the Senate committee was that he believes he was fired last month in an effort to "relieve" pressure on Trump from the Justice Department investigation.
Trump, who said he's "100 percent" willing to testify under oath if Senate investigators ask, also rejected Comey's claim that he demanded loyalty from the FBI director.
"I hardly know [Comey]. I'm not going to say, 'I want you to pledge allegiance,'" Trump added. "Who would do that?"
The president reiterated his intention to disclose whether tapes exist of the meeting after a throng of reporters asked why he couldn't confirm or deny their existence immediately.
"You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don't worry," Trump said.
Apart from the questions about Comey, the two leaders pledged cooperation against terrorism amid a deepening diplomatic crisis in the Middle East. The visit was the first for Iohannis at the Trump White House.
"Today we reaffirm and celebrate our strategic partnership that began more than 20 years ago," Trump said. "Your visit comes at an important moment, not just in this partnership but among all responsible nations of the world."
Iohannis spoke of Trump's remarks last month about some members of NATO not spending enough of defense, saying he liked the U.S. president's speech on the matter.