When 6’8″ James Comey walked into the Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday, he towered over the reporters, senators and aides in the wood-paneled room. It was the first time the former FBI Director had spoken publicly since he was abruptly fired by President Trump.
On Wednesday, Comey released his 7-page opening statement that cataloged five instances when he spoke one-on-one with President Trump. The document described Comey’s uneasiness during those conversations with the president and as he made his opening testimony Thursday, there was a tangible tension in the air.
In his opening testimony, Comey stated that the manner in which Trump painted the FBI “were lies, plain in simple.” He then apologized to the American people that “you were told them” and to his former colleagues, “that you had to hear them.”
The Senators heading the committee, Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) both delivered opening remarks that framed the seriousness of the hearings. Burr noted that there is also a closed hearing and reminded the public that questions that might delve into confidential matters will be held until that session while Warner, in his opening statement, called Comey’s prepared remarks “very disturbing.”