James Comey Defends The FBI's Independence During Packed Senate Hearing

"The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent.”

During testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey sent a message to the American people and his former FBI colleagues.

"The FBI is honest," Comey said under oath. "The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent."



His comments came during an opening statement Comey gave during an open hearing into the former FBI Director's interactions with President Donald Trump. Comey also took the time to express "confusion" over how the White House explained his firing in the days following his departure from the FBI, attributing it to his handling of the investigation relating to Hillary Clinton's email practices during the 2016 election.

"The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI," Comey said. "Saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader... those were lies."

The White House has not yet responded to Comey's testimony.

Comey expressed regret that the FBI and American people had to hear those "lies." He also reflected on his own job, saying he worked every day at the FBI to "make that great organization better."

"I say 'help' because I did nothing alone at the FBI," Comey said. "There are no indispensable people at the FBI. The organization's great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide."

Later, during initial questioning, Comey expressed confidence that Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee could conduct a thorough and independent investigation in concert. 

"The FBI will be fine without me. The FBI's mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States."

Comey is expected to testify until 1 p.m., when the hearing will move into a closed session.

Cover photo: Shutterstock / a katz

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