Politics

In the wake of former FBI director James Comey’s testimony about his dismissal by President Donald Trump, Democrats and Republicans are both claiming victory.

During a three-hour public hearing Thursday, Comey said Trump and the White House lied “plain and simple” about his firing.

Comey contradicted Trump’s claims that he fired the former FBI director because of his handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation and that rank-and-file FBI members had lost confidence in him.

Comey testified that Trump pressured him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn’s ties to Russian meddling in last year’s election, raising questions about whether the president’s actions constituted obstruction of justice.

Comey also testified that Trump was not part of the probe’s inquiry at the time of his firing on May 12 and said that after his dismissal, he leaked copies of memos detailing his conversations with the president, instructing a friend at Columbia University Law School to relay the documents to the press.

Only three of the eight members of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation responded to a request for comment on Comey’s testimony.

After the hearing, Rep. John Yarmuth, the only Kentucky Democrat in Congress, said Comey’s testimony “confirms some of our worst fears.”

“That this is a president with no regard for our institutions and national safeguards, who cannot be trusted to tell the truth, and who would not hesitate to manipulate or malign public servants for personal gain,” Yarmuth said. “Republicans throwing around the word ‘vindication’ are doing nothing more than proving the tragically low standard to which they are holding this president.”

Rep. James Comer, a Republican representing western and southern Kentucky, emailed a statement saying Comey’s side of the story “confirmed what President Trump has been saying.

“There was no investigation into the President. It’s a two-sided story. I think it’s important we hear both sides, and let the multiple investigations run their courses,” Comer said.

In an interview with libertarian website Reason, Sen. Rand Paul said the inquiry into Russian meddling and the Trump administration is “distracting us from everything right now.”

“And I think it has been overplayed,” Paul said, imagining what Comey’s private Oval Office meeting with the president was like. “You can see him browbeating and saying ‘I want the public to know because it’s distracting from my agenda.’ And you do kinda wonder if he really isn’t a target, why they wouldn’t say that publicly. And you can go into all the debate over whether or not he is bringing undue pressure on him. But the bottom line is, as Comey testified today, ‘nobody told me not to investigate this stuff.’”

Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, denied Comey’s claims that the president had tried to quash the Flynn investigation.

Kasowitz also criticized Comey for leaking “privileged communications” to the press.

This story has been updated. 

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.