>> Former FBI Director, James Comey, testifying before the Senate Thursday about his interactions with President Donald Trump and whether the President failed to respect the independence of the FBI and tried to impede an investigation. Reuters' political correspondent, James Oliphant.>> I'd say this is a seismic moment in American political history where you have a just fired FBI director, testifying under oath about his interactions with the President.
The stakes really could not be higher.>> Comey's appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, marking his first public statement since Donald Trump fired him last month. Crowds lining up early in the Capitol to catch a glimpse of the hotly anticipated hearing. In his opening remarks, Comey confirming media reports that the President asked him for his loyalty at a private dinner in January.
And in an oval office meeting in February, Comey also telling the Senate Trump asked him to ease off investigating his former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who was fired for misleading the administration about his contacts with Russia's ambassador. The hearing now pitting the credibility of the former FBI director against the President's.
>> Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey, in any way shape or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? And also as you look back->> No. Next question.>> Congress will wanna know if Comey believes Trump's behavior rises to the level of criminal obstruction.
And why Comey never called out Trump before his firing. As for the investigation into Russia's meddling in any ties to the Trump campaign, Comey still unlikely to be able to answer many questions as much of that investigation remains classified.>> And even if Comey is not completely forthcoming, there's still going to be enough to make sure this story sticks around for a long time.
And there's a great risk right now with the White House if they go after Comey too hard, that they end up making him even more of a sympathetic figure, and they make it look like they may have something to hide.