During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey said that one of the reasons why he began taking detailed memos of his meetings with President Donald Trump was the “nature of the person,” adding that he had concerns that Trump “might lie about the nature of our meeting.” Comey also explained why he didn’t feel the need to take similar memos after meetings with Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
In response to this comment at the hearing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the White House “can deinitively say the president is not a liar.”
In his opening statement testimony, Comey explained that he began taking detailed memos of his meetings with Trump, starting after his first meeting on January 6, before Trump became president. That meeting focused on the infamous and unverified dossier that included salacious claims about Trump.
During the hearing, Senator Mark Warner asked Comey to further explain what it was about that January 6 meeting that inspired him to take memos.
“A combination of things. I think the circumstances, the subject matter and the nature of the person I was interacting with,” Comey said. “Circumstances first: I was alone with the President of the United States… or the President-Elect, Soon-to-Be-President. The subject matter: I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility and relate to the president-elect personally. And the nature of the person: I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting and so I thought it really important to document.”
Comey further added, “That combination of things, I never experienced before, but it led me to believe I got to write it down and I got to write it down in a very detailed way.”
Comey then said he never felt the need to take similar detailed memos after meetings with Trump’s predecessors.
The former FBI director later met with Trump three times in person and spoke with him six times over the phone. In his testimony released on Wednesday, Comey explained that he never felt the need to make memos after speaking with Obama.
“This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016,” Comey wrote in the testimony. “In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions.”
Later, Comey said that he hopes there are tapes of his discussion with Trump in February, when he claims the president asked him to stop the investigation into Michael Flynn. Trump warned Comey on Twitter that he better hope there weren’t any tapes, but the Trump Administration later refused to comment on the existence of recordings.