"With restrained fury, Mr. Comey described President Trump’s remarks last month that the bureau was a mess and that the director had lost the trust of his agents as ‘lies, plain and simple.’
Confronted later with the sworn testimony of a dignified and affronted lawman, the White House press office, its own credibility in tatters, was left to feebly insist, ‘The president is not a liar.’
Mr. Comey is a wily bureaucratic infighter, a sometimes self-righteous official who wrote his notes with care so they would remain unclassified, and therefore eligible to be released to the public. He acknowledged that he engineered some of the notes’ release, which The Times reported last month, to spur the appointment of a special counsel in the Russia investigation. After firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump thought he’d cow him by tweeting about the possibility that their private conversations were taped. Mr. Comey bested him with a single sentence on Thursday, telling the panel he hoped there were tapes, as ‘corroboration’ of the abuse of power he’d witnessed.
Republicans asked Mr. Comey why he didn’t say publicly that Mr. Trump wasn’t under investigation, which is just what Mr. Trump wanted. He replied that he didn’t want to reverse himself should Mr. Trump later come under investigation. Republicans asked why he didn’t try to educate a president so ignorant of the F.B.I.’s role that he risked incriminating himself. But Mr. Comey wasn’t suggesting Mr. Trump was foolhardy or inexperienced: He portrayed him as an unscrupulous leader whose request put the nation at risk. The Russia investigation, he said, is ‘an effort to protect our country from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away anytime soon.’
There is an aspect to public servants like Mr. Comey that Mr. Trump and his administration seem unable to comprehend, to their peril — a dedication to their roles that places service above any president’s glory.
542 COMMENTS When Mr. Trump demanded that Mr. Comey pledge his personal ‘loyalty,’ he refused, offering only his ‘honesty.’ When Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama’s attorney general, asked him last year to call the criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server ‘a matter,’ he reluctantly complied, but he was repelled by the ‘political’ nature of the request, he said Thursday.
The F.B.I.’s mission, Mr. Comey declared, ‘is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution of the United States.’ Let’s hope that the principles he articulated, and those who hold them, guide this investigation in the days ahead."