BREAKING: Former FBI Director James Comey Testifying Before Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on developments involving fired FBI Director James Comey (all times EDT):

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11:24 a.m.

Ousted FBI Director James Comey says he knew of a “variety of reasons” why Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the Russia investigation would be problematic before Sessions recused himself in March.

But Comey said during his Senate testimony the reasons are such “that I can’t discuss in an open setting.”

He said career officials in the Justice Department had been urging Sessions to step aside from the probe. Sessions did so in March, after it was revealed that he twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Sessions failed to disclose those contacts when pressed by Congress during his confirmation hearing.

Comey said he doesn’t know if Comey thought Sessions had adhered to that recusal. He added that that depends on the real reason for Comey’s firing, which Sessions had recommended.

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11:15 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he didn’t announce that President Donald Trump was not personally under investigation because “it creates a duty to correct, which I’ve lived before.”

That’s a reference to the investigation into Hillary Clinton emails when Comey said late in the 2016 presidential campaign that the FBI was further investigating the case.

Comey is explaining in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony why he was reluctant to announce that Trump was not under investigation.

He says he wrestled with the decision but said he didn’t want to say it publicly because it would create a “duty to correct, which I’ve lived before and you have to be really careful doing that.”

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11:12 a.m.

Fired FBI Director James Comey says, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” of his conversations with President Donald Trump.

Three days after Trump fired Comey, the president tweeted that Comey should hope there are “no tapes” of their conversations.

Comey documented his conversations with Trump in memos after the encounters. During his first public appearance since he was fired, senators asked Comey about his responses to Trump.

Comey says he chose his words carefully when responding to Trump because he was “so stunned” by the conversation. Comey was recalling a February conversation in which, Comey says, Trump said he hoped Comey could let go the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn’s calls with the Russians.

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11:06 a.m.

President Donald Trump has so far stayed off Twitter during former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. But his eldest son hasn’t.

Donald Trump Jr. is posting repeatedly during the closely watched testimony Thursday.

He repeatedly defended his father and attacked Comey.

Trump Jr. in particular seized on Comey’s assertion that he interpreted the president’s statement that he “hoped” the FBI would drop its probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump Jr. tweeted “you would think a guy like Comey” would know the difference between “hoping and telling.”

He also cast doubt on all of Comey’s testimony and said he should “have actually followed procedure.”

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are now at the helm of their father’s New York-based business.

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11:00 a.m.

Former FBI director James Comey says he took “as a direction” President Donald Trump’s remark that he hoped Comey would drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho asked if Comey was aware of anyone being charged with obstruction of justice because they expressed hope for a certain outcome. Comey says he wasn’t.

But Comey added at his Senate hearing: “I took it as a direction,” and noted that the remark came during a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States.

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10:50 a.m.

Former FBI director James Comey says he thought during a January dinner with President Donald Trump that the president was “looking to get something” in exchange for allowing him to stay on as FBI director.

Comey is describing his views that the president was trying to create a type of “patronage relationship” at the start of the Trump administration.

The ousted FBI head is testifying that the president told him before the dinner he hoped he would stay as director.

Comey says law enforcement leaders aren’t “supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is pleased or not with what you’re doing.”

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10:40 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he was concerned Donald Trump would “lie” about the nature of his first conversation with him.

Comey says Trump’s behavior was new to him and led him to think, “I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way.”

During the meeting, Trump asked if he personally was under investigation. Comey says he told him he was not at that time.

Trump fired Comey in May. At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into Russia’s election meddling and ties with the Trump campaign.

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10:35 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged him to refer to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”

Comey says in his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he was confused by the request and it was one of the reasons he felt the need to publicly announce his findings in the Clinton email case.

Comey says the other major factor was Lynch’s meeting with former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac of an Arizona airport. Comey says he had to announce his findings to protect the credibility of the FBI and the Justice Department.

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10:25 a.m.

James Comey says President Donald Trump’s administration spread “lies, plain and simple” and “defamed” him and the FBI.

The former FBI director opened his Senate testimony Thursday by stating that the administration’s explanations for his firing confused and concerned him.

The ousted FBI director says at the start of his high-profile Senate hearing that President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job. Comey says he told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.

Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

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10:20 a.m.

Former FBI director James Comey says that shifting explanations of his firing confused and concerned him.

The ousted FBI director says at the start of his high-profile Senate hearing that President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job. Comey says he told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.

Comey says he was “confused” by the explanation that his decisions during the 2016 election was the reason he was fired by Trump.

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10:18 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey has begun his much-anticipated congressional testimony under oath.

Comey is expected to recount a series of interactions with President Donald Trump in the weeks before his firing that he will say made him uncomfortable.

Those include a January dinner in which he says Trump asked him for his loyalty, and a White House conversation weeks later in which he says Trump asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

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10:15 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner says President Donald Trump’s pressuring of former FBI Director James Comey and other government officials to downplay the Russia investigation is inappropriate.

Warner says it’s not “how a president of the United States behaves.”

Warner, of Virginia, is the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. The panel is hosting Comey for his first public account of his interactions with the president before he was dramatically fired.

In his prepared opening remarks, Comey describes a series of uncomfortable interactions with the president.

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10:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump will dispute key parts of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony.

That’s according to a person close to the president’s legal team.

The person says the president disputes Comey’s claim that he asked him for loyalty. Trump also disputes Comey’s account of a conversation about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.

The person demanded anonymity because the person is not authorized to be named in a discussion about legal strategy.

-Julie Bykowicz

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10:00 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey has arrived in a Senate hearing room where he will deliver long-awaited testimony about his dramatic firing.

Senators will ask Comey about his interactions with President Donald Trump before he was fired in May.

Comey says he had a series of uncomfortable conversations with Trump. He says Trump asked him for a pledge of loyalty and pushed him to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s ties with Moscow.

Comey’s remarks are his first since he was fired.

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9:52 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s outside counsel Marc Kasowitz will be at the White House Thursday to monitor fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to Congress.

The president is expected to watch some of Comey’s remarks to lawmakers. His public schedule is largely clear until the afternoon.

Kasowitz is a longtime Trump lawyer. He was recently tapped to handle all inquiries related to the investigations into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia – a move intended to distance the White House from the FBI and congressional probes.

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