As Trump disputes Comey testimony, attorney navigates timeline confusion

Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz refuted a number of the director's statements.

ByABC News
June 9, 2017, 4:54 PM

— -- President Donald Trump disputes that he ever asked for James Comey's loyalty or requested that the ex-FBI director drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a source familiar with the president's thinking told ABC News.

Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, reiterated the assertions during a press briefing held Thursday afternoon following Comey's appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee

"Mr. Comey’s testimony ... makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election," Kasowitz said, adding that Trump "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including the president never suggested that Mr. Comey 'let Flynn go.'"

The attorney later added, "The president also never told Mr. Comey, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' He never said it in form and he never said it in substance. Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration."

Kasowitz's claim directly conflicted with Comey's testimony, specifically a written statement released on Wednesday in which he documented several alleged encounters with Trump following his inauguration in January, including the president's alleged appeal for loyalty and his alleged call to end the inquiry into Flynn's actions.

In accusing Comey of giving false testimony, Kasowitz himself seemed to have given an inaccurate chronology of events. On Thursday, Trump's lawyer spoke of a New York Times article that quoted from Comey's contemporaneous memos about his private meeting with the president and said that Trump tweeted about White House "tapes" the next day -- May 12. However, the first Times story to mention the memos didn't come until May 16.

On Friday, Kasowitz pushed back against the accusation that he confused the timeline, claiming he was referencing a May 11 story about the Comey-Trump dinner meeting. That story did not reference the director's memos, but rather "two people who have heard [Comey’s] account of the dinner."

"It is obvious that whomever was the source for the May 11, 2017, New York Times story got that information from the memos or from someone reading or who had read the memos," said Kasowitz in a statement Friday.

In response to Comey accusing the administration of telling lies in his testimony Thursday, White House principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if Trump might have been dishonest.

“I can definitively say the president isn’t a liar,” said Sanders, adding she thought it was insulting that such a question would be asked.

Kasowitz said in a statement following the release of Comey's prepared testimony Wednesday that the president felt "totally vindicated" by Comey's confirmation that he was not personally under investigation.

"Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told President Trump privately. That is that the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference," Kasowitz said today, adding, "Mr. Comey also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference."

But Kasowitz made clear that the president wasn't pleased with all of Comey's testimony -- he said Comey's choice to have a friend leak the contents of a memo detailing Comey's alleged encounter with the president was an "unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory."

Trump watched Comey's highly anticipated hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday from the White House with his legal team.

The president was joined by Kasowitz, who was retained by the president in May to represent him on matters related to the Russia investigation, as well as other senior advisers. The group watched the testimony from the president's personal dining room near the Oval Office.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer previously suggested that Trump would be too busy to watch the hearing.

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