US PRESIDENT Donald Trump says he is “100 per cent” willing to testify under oath that sacked Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey has lied about their encounters.
Mr Comey gave explosive evidence to a Senate committee on Thursday, saying that the President asked him to pledge his loyalty and that he asked him to “let go” of the FBI investigation into Mr Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In press conference at the White House on Friday afternoon, Mr Trump denied that he asked Mr Comey to drop the probe investigating Mr Flynn’s ties to the Russians.
“I didn’t say that … and there’d be nothing wrong if I did say it, according to everybody that I’ve read today, but I did not say that,” he said.
He also denied that he told Mr Comey “I need loyalty”.
“I hardly know the man. I’m not going to say, ‘I want you to pledge allegiance’. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance … It doesn’t make sense.”
When asked whether he would be willing to speak under oath to give his version of events, Mr Trump said “100 per cent”.
He also said he would be happy to give evidence to Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel overseeing the investigation into whether the Russians interfered with the US election and whether anyone in Mr Trump’s camp helped.
“I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump also heaped scorn on Mr Comey, accusing him of lying during his testimony to the Senate committee on Thursday.
The President tweeted early on Friday that he felt vindicated after Mr Comey’s appearance.
When asked how the testimony vindicated him, Mr Trump gave a disjointed answer.
“No collusion, no obstruction. He’s a leaker, but we want to get back to running our great country: jobs, trade deficits, we want them to disappear fast, North Korea, big problem, Middle East, a big problem. So that’s what I am focused on, that’s what I have been focused on,” he said.
“But yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction.
“We are doing really well. That was an excuse by the democrats who lost an election that some people think they shouldn’t have lost because it’s almost impossible for the Democrats to lose the Electoral College, as you know.”
Mr Trump appeared to be referring to his claim that there was no Russian interference in the US election and that the Democrats were pushing the story to explain Hillary Clinton’s loss.
During Mr Comey’s evidence yesterday, he said definitively that the Russians did in fact meddle in the poll.
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during (the) 2016 cycle … That happened. That’s about as un-fake as you can possibly get,” he said.
Mr Trump finished his comments on Mr Comey by implying he had lied to the hearing.
“But, we were very, very happy and, frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said and some of the things that he said just weren’t true,” the President said.
Mr Comey confirmed during his testimony that Mr Trump was not personally under investigation as part of the Russia probe.
ARE THERE TAPES OF THE COMEY CONVERSATIONS?
Speculation has been rampant in Washington that there may be tapes of Mr Comey’s encounters with Mr Trump.
The President tweeted in May that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations”.
When giving evidence in Washington yesterday, Mr Comey said “Lordy, I hope there are tapes” because he believed they would corroborate his version of events.
When asked about whether tapes existed during Friday’s press conference, Mr Trump’s answer was cryptic.
“I’m not hinting anything. I will tell you about it over a very short period of time,” he said.
“You’re going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. Don’t worry.”