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What went on inside the Senate hearing room

Comey's testimony

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Former FBI Director James Comey walked into a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing room at precisely 10 a.m. and immediately took his seat at the witness table. Senators Burr and Warner came down from the member dias to welcome him with a handshake and thanked him for coming.

The hearing room was packed with media, senate staffers, and spectators as dozens of photographers crowded around Comey clicking away.

The 6-foot-8 inch Comey, sitting ramrod straight in a navy blue suit, gave brief opening remarks in which he accused the Trump administration of defaming him and the FBI following his abrupt dismissal May 9th by their charging the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led and the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.

"Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey said as the room fell into a hushed silence.

John Dickerson on the "contest of character" between Trump and Comey

He said it was the honor of his life to be part of the FBI family "and I will miss it for the rest of my life."

Under intense questioning by committee members for more than two hours, Comey said he believed he was fired by President Trump because of the Russia investigation.

The former FBI director described in riveting detail private meetings with Trump in which he said he was asked to pledge his loyalty to the president and to drop FBI investigation into his former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr. Trump has challenged these conversations reported in the media, tweeting "better hope there are no tapes."

At one point in the hearing, Comey said "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," which drew audible laughter from those in attendance.

Another key question came from Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein regarding Comey's assertion that Trump asked him to let the Flynn investigation drop.

"Why didn't you stop and say 'Mr. President this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you?'" Feinstein asked. 

"That's a good question," Comey responded. "Maybe if I were stronger I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in."

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