- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 9, 2018

President Trump on Sunday accused James B. Comey of lying to Congress in the former FBI director’s recent closed-door appearance on Capitol Hill, where Mr. Comey testified about the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful!” the president said on Twitter. “This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!”

House GOP lawmakers called Mr. Comey, who was ousted by Mr. Trump in May 2017, to testify Friday about the FBI’s decisions during the 2016 campaign, one of their final chances to formally question Mr. Comey directly with Democrats poised to retake control of the House next month.

Mr. Trump also asserted that on 245 occasions, Mr. Comey told House investigators that he “didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked.”

“Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) — didn’t know who signed off and didn’t know Christopher Steele,” the president tweeted, referring to the author of a dossier that contained allegations of ties between Mr. Trump and Russia. “All lies!”

Mr. Comey said that an FBI counterintelligence investigation initially started as a probe into four Americans and whether they were a part of the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election — not into Mr. Trump or his campaign.

SEE ALSO: James Comey told lawmakers Russian probe started with four Americans, not Donald Trump

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Mr. Comey about the start of the Russia inquiry in July of 2016 and if the government opened the examination on “the Trump campaign or Donald Trump himself.”

Mr. Comey said neither of those would be “fair to say.”

“We opened investigations on four Americans to see if there was any connection between those four Americans and the Russian interference effort. And those four Americans did not include the candidate,” said Mr. Comey.

He also was quizzed about former FBI agent Peter Strozk and ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who exchanged thousands of anti-Trump text messages, despite both investigating potential Russian interference and conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

They also helped Mr. Comey draft his public statement exonerating Hillary Clinton from any illegal conduct in her mishandling of government email.

“If I had known about those things that they were communicating that I’ve seen in open source, I would not have had them stay on the — playing any role in connection with that investigation,” Mr. Comey said.

He also dismissed any claim that he and special counsel Robert Mueller are friends, as the president has asserted, suggesting Mr. Mueller has a conflict of interest overseeing the Russia investigation.

“I admire the heck out of the man, but I don’t know his phone number, I’ve never been to his house, I don’t know his children’s names. I think I had a meal once alone with him in a restaurant. I like him. I am not a — I’m an associate of his who admires him greatly. We’re not friends in any social sense,” Mr. Comey told lawmakers.

Mr. Comey said afterward that lawmakers “came up empty” in their “desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president.”

He is supposed to return to Capitol Hill to testify again soon.

“In the long run, it’ll make no difference because facts are stubborn things,” Mr. Comey said on Twitter.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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