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 prepared statements, James Comey was very clear that, at no point while he was leading the FBI, was President Trump himself under investigation — only people surrounding Trump, like his former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida then pointed out that “the only thing that’s never been leaked is the fact that the President is not under investigation.”
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the president grabbed onto that moment and pointed out that “we all know that there’s no way someone in the swamp would leak something favorable to POTUS.”
A number of conservatives on social media also commented on Comey’s statements, lambasting the leakers and journalists who might have reported on leaks. At one point in the hearing, Comey noted that he doesn’t blame the journalists, but that “it’s difficult to report on confidential matters.”
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.”