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Summary

  1. Fired FBI director James Comey tells Senate Intelligence Committee Trump 'lied' about his sacking
  2. Comey says he has 'no doubt' Trump fired him to 'change' probe into alleged Russian meddling
  3. He says Trump asked him to pledge loyalty and drop a probe into his ex-national security adviser
  4. Trump's lawyer denies the testimony and says Comey leaked 'privileged communications'

Live Reporting

By Joel Gunter, Max Matza and David Walker

All times stated are UK

Live coverage ends

That wraps up our live coverage of one of the most gripping set-pieces of political theatre on Capitol Hill in many years.

In today's highlights:

  • Referring to the president's claim that he was fired because he was incapable of leading the FBI, Comey accused Trump of telling "lies, plain and simple"
  • Comey said he took meticulous notes of his meetings with Trump because he was concerned the president would lie about them. "I was honestly concerned that he might lie," he said
  • Comey said he had "no doubt" that he was fired by Trump to "change" the Russia investigation, and called his sacking a "very big deal"
  • Comey said he had no doubt that Russia meddled in the US election, but said there was no evidence that it had successfully altered any votes
  • Regarding Trump's tweeted threat that he had taped Comey in the Oval Office, Comey was unconcerned. "Release all the tapes, I’m good with it," he said
  • Comey said he told Trump he was not the subject of an open foreign counter-intelligence investigation

Read more in our main story here;

And don't miss our analysis on what questions remain after Mr Comey's testimony.

Trump 'smiles through pursed lips'

US President Donald Trump at the White House
EPA
US President Donald Trump at the White House

So far Donald Trump has refrained from commenting on Comey's explosive allegations.

At a photo-op on Thursday afternoon, he "smiled through pursed lips" when asked if Comey was telling the truth, according to a pool reporter travelling with him.

Nor has the president shared his thoughts on Twitter. Yet. It can't be long, though, can it?

He is currently at an "infrastructure week" function in the State Dining Room of the White House.

comey
Getty Images

Duelling narratives

text
GOP

Meanwhile, the Democrats are challenging Trump to show the truth by playing the tapes he hinted he had made of his conversation with Comey.

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White House plans fight-back

US political news website Axios reports the mood in the West Wing is upbeat because Comey said publicly Trump is not under investigation.

It says the White House strategy is to have Comey depicted as a "leaker" after the former FBI director testified that he orchestrated the leak of accounts of his conversations with Trump because he thought it might lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor to the Russia inquiry.

Trump lawyer on attack

The president's private attorney Marc Kasowitz denies Trump ever told Comey he needed and expected his loyalty, as Comey testified, and lambasts the former FBI chief for saying he leaked details of a conversation with the president.

President Trumps' attorney responds to Comey testimony

Republicans tout '#BigLeagueTruth'

Republicans are pointing to Comey's testimony as proof that Donald Trump has done nothing wrong during his time in office.

Using the hashtag #BigLeagueTruth the official Republican @GOP Twitter account has been posting their favourite snippets.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'Our Super Bowl'

Here's the verdict from pub-goers in the nation's capital, where bars hosted #ComeyDay viewing parties.

Comey hearing 'is our Super Bowl'

Senator focuses on Comey warning

Senator Ben Cardin is citing one specific passage in Comey's remarks.

The Maryland Democrat said in a statement: "I hope that my colleagues who have yet to co-sponsor my legislation to create an independent, 9/11-style commission were paying attention when Mr Comey said of Russia: 'We’re talking about a foreign government trying to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. This is a big deal. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats, they’re coming after America. They think this great experiment of ours is a threat to them and they want to tear it down. They will be back to meddle again.'"

'Maybe I shouldn’t stay up late'

Senator John McCain has responded to online head-scratching over his questioning today, in which he referred to "President Comey".

The former FBI director was not alone in struggling to grasp the Arizona senator’s gist.

But 80-year-old McCain has explained that he stayed up late watching his favourite baseball team.

"I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning today went over people’s heads," he said in a statement.

"Maybe going forward I shouldn’t stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games."

Senator John McCain
Reuters
Senator John McCain

'Not a single vote changed'

Trump's lawyer points to Comey belief that Moscow did not affect the actual US voting process.

Marc Kasowitz said: "Mr Comey also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference."

Whether hackers' alleged leaking of Democratic officials' embarrassing emails could have influenced the decisions of American voters is another matter.

The president has insisted the whole Russia inquiry is a hoax perpetuated by Democrats as an excuse for losing an election their candidate was widely expected to win.

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'Privileged conversations leaked'

More on Marc Kasowitz's call for Mr Comey to be investigated. He says in his statement: "Today, Mr Comey admitted that he leaked to friends his purported memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated."

View more on twitter

Trump's lawyer addresses the media

Marc Kasowitz
Reuters

Marc Kasowitz is disputing key elements of James Comey's testimony as he addresses reporters.

Trump 'never tried to stop FBI probe'

Lawyer Marc Kasowitz is saying that President Trump "never suggested the FBI stop investigating anyone" including national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey attacked over leaks

Mr Kasowitz suggests that Mr Comey could be investigated for leaking "privileged communications with the media".

BreakingTrump 'never asked Comey for loyalty'

President Trump's personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz says in a statement that the president never told James Comey "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty". More to come.

'The Comey Show'

Russian state-run news channel Rossiya 24 introduced Thursday's hearings as "The Comey Show". It said US senators were "dreaming about the Kremlin".

'Not a terrible day for Trump'

Not a terrible day for Trump - Comey didn't say POTUS obstructed justice, kept quiet on collusion, confirmed Trump not under investigation.

Trump lawyer up next

Marc Kasowitz, the lawyer Donald Trump has appointed to represent him in the Russia inquiry, is about to make a statement.

Don’t go away.

Marc Kasowitz
Getty Images
Marc Kasowitz

Comey testimony: Juicy highlights

Getty
Getty Images

If you're just joining us, here's what you missed...

  • Referring to the president's claim that he was fired because he was incapable of leading the FBI, Comey accused Trump of telling "lies, plain and simple"
  • Comey said he took meticulous notes of his meetings with Trump because he was concerned the president would lie about them. "I was honestly concerned that he might lie," he said
  • Comey said he had "no doubt" that he was fired by Trump to "change" the Russia investigation, and called his sacking a "very big deal"
  • Comey said he had no doubt that Russia meddled in the US election, but said there was no evidence that it had successfully altered any votes
  • Regarding Trump's tweeted threat that he had taped Comey in the Oval Office, Comey was unconcerned. "Release all the tapes, I’m good with it," he said
  • Comey said he told Trump he was not the subject of an open foreign counter-intelligence investigation

The key moment?

Comey: "I was fired because of Russia investigation"

Comey: 'I was fired because of the Russia investigation'
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Monster queue

This blockbuster political hearing drew a queue unlike anything we've seen since the line for tickets to the musical Hamilton.

Check out this sped-up video of the snaking procession of spectators.

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Trump: 'We are going to fight and win'

Trump
Getty Images

Donald Trump is at the Faith & Freedom Coalition convention in Washington DC right now.

"We want our children to know God," Trump tells attendees, reading from a teleprompter.

He read a passage from the Bible, and then said his opponents will "lie, they will obstruct, they will spread their hatred and their prejudice, but we will not back down from doing what is right".

"I have one goal, to fight for the American people, and to fight for America and America first," he said.

Trump adds: "We are going to fight and win."

The president has managed to refrain from tweeting about the testimony. So far.

Relive the ride

Here's the first 10 blistering minutes of Comey's testimony...

Comey hearing: The first 10 minutes of testimony on Trump and Russia

Collusion question

Here's another key moment when Comey ducks the question everyone wants an answer to.

Comey hearing: 'Do you think Trump colluded with Russia?'

Public session ends

The roller-coaster comes to a juddering halt.

Committee chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, declares the public part of the session over and thanks Comey for his service.

Burr also pays tribute to the FBI staff in general.

He points out the Senate committee has sat nine times since the beginning of the year, twice the yearly average.

Comey will now sit with the senators for a private afternoon session at which he can discuss sensitive material.

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Confused McCain questions stump Comey

Republican John McCain grills Comey over the comparison between investigation into Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump last year.

"You said with Clinton there wasn't sufficient evidence against her, although they had been very careless...

"Yet at the same time in the case of Mr Trump, you said there was not enough information to make a conclusion."

Comey says the Clinton investigation was complete at that point, whereas the Trump investigation was ongoing at the point he was fired.

McCain is rambling somewhat. He twice refers to Trump as Comey, including one reference to "President Comey".

He says it is a "double standard" that the Clinton investigation was closed but the Trump investigation remains open.

Yet these are completely different investigations...

Comey says he is confused by McCain's remarks, and stresses that Clinton was never under investigation for ties with Russia.

McCain is out of time, he gets the gavel.

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US Senator John McCain questions Comey
Reuters
US Senator John McCain questions Comey

'We had that thing, you know'

Republican Senator John McCain asks Comey about an intriguing remark the former FBI director says Trump made to him in a phone call on 11 April.

In his prepared testimony, Comey said the president concluded the conversation thus: "He said he would do that and added, 'Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.' I did not reply or ask him what he meant by "that thing."

Comey tells Senator McCain he took Trump's remark as "an effort to communicate to me, 'I've been good to you, you be good to me'".

Sen McCain says that he should have been more "curious" about Trump's meaning.

"I'd like to know what the hell 'that thing' is," he says.

Breaking'Fired due to Russia investigation'

Comey says he has "no doubt" he was fired by Trump "in some way... to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted".

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View more on twitter

On obstruction of justice

Here's another key clip from the hearing...

Comey: 'It's not for me to say if obstruction of justice'

BreakingTrump spokeswoman to 'look under couch' for tape recorder

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders is holding an off-camera briefing, known as a "gaggle".

In an apparently sarcastic mood, she denied the president was a "liar", calling the very suggestion "frankly insulting", and said she'd "look under the couch" for a hidden Oval Office recording system.

The White House also said it is not sure if the president has been watching any of the testimony.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter
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Was firing FBI chief a clever move?

Comey is asked by Republican John Cornyn of Texas whether firing the director of the FBI is a good way of trying to squash an investigation.

Comey says it "doesn't make a lot of sense" to him, "but then I'm hopelessly biased, given that I was the one that was fired".

He confirms that as far as he was concerned, nothing happened that interfered with the investigation.

Cornyn asks about Comey's earlier stated concern that former AG Loretta Lynch had a conflict of interest over the Hillary Clinton emails affair.

"I think that's fair, I didn't think she could credibly decline that investigation without damaging the Department of Justice."

Comey endorsed by former colleague

BBC World Service

"A very straightforward man. He keeps notes." General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, says what it was like to work with James Comey.

General Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA, describes working with James Comey.

Comey: Sessions shrugged

Senator Harris asks Comey if he is aware of any meetings between Trump campaign officials and Russians that have not been made public.

Comey he says he can't talk about it in open setting.

Harris goes quickfire with prepared bullet-point questions, most related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his decision to recuse himself from the affair.

Comey is replying to most that he can't answer in open setting or he can't remember.

She asks him about Sessions' body language when Trump instructed him to leave them alone in the Oval Office.

Comey says he might be projecting, but he got the impression that Sessions shrugged and gave a face that said: "What am I going to do?"

Comey previously stated he felt Sessions knew it was improper to leave the room.

Trump went on to speak to Comey about the Michael Flynn investigation.

Most repeated questions

360 degree view of the committee room

Check out Rajini's Instagram page to explore her view of the hearing

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Comey: 'Real risk of a chilling effect'

Sen Lankford earlier asked what was the different between directly telling the FBI director that he opposes the Russia investigation and tweeting to the world that he disagrees with the inquiry.

Comey said there was a big difference.

"I think there's a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the Oval Office, looking the FBI director in the eye and saying I hope you let this go.

"I think if our agents, as good as they are, heard the president of the United States do that, there is a real risk of a chilling effect on their work."

'I'm between opportunities now'

Kamala Harris, Democrat from California, is up.

She thanks Comey for enduring a Senate hearing as a private citizen.

The fired FBI director quips that he is "between opportunities now" so he can oblige.

'Did you consider closing Flynn investigation?'

Comey answers that this, too, is something that he can't answer during a public hearing.

The senators will be holding a closed session with Comey later today after this session.