"To some extent, I could buy that, because he isn't a politician of the sort we usually have", says Ms. O'Sullivan of Georgetown University.

Comey also said he started writing memos about his meetings with Trump after an encounter with the president-elect on January 6 because he was concerned Trump might lie about it. Comey said he never felt the need for such a record from meetings with Trump's two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Jim Risch of Idaho questioned whether the word, "hope" made the president's comments seem more like speculation than an outright command, the conversation turned to British history and something Henry II once allegedly said about Archbishop of Canterbuy Thomas Beckett more than nine centuries ago, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" "I knew there might come a day when I might need a record of what happened not only to defend myself but to protect the Federal Bureau of Investigation".

He even claimed Trump had told him that Russian Federation was on his mind when he dismissed Comey. Comey said that at least one of the memos is unclassified and that there is no reason why senators shouldn't be able to read all of them.

"My judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square".

Today's Senate hearing went viral on Twitter as #ComeyDay.

Facing a Senate committee Thursday, Comey portrayed Trump as dismissive of the FBI's independence.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on "Russian Federation Efforts to Interfere in the 2016 U.S. Elections" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. June 8, 2017. Indeed, Mr. Comey was cautious not to reveal much about what investigators are uncovering and instead reviewed what he had already offered in written testimony - much of it about whether the president sought to affect the investigation and perhaps even obstruct justice, a potentially impeachable offense.

"Lordy, I hope there are tapes", Mr Comey said, suggesting such evidence would back up his account over the president's.

At one point he practically dared Trump to release any recordings of their conversations, a prospect the president once alluded to in a tweet.

When Trump discussed the Flynn investigation with Comey in the Oval Office on February 14, a day after Flynn's firing, the president had first asked the others in the room to leave, according to Comey - including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"I don't know for sure", said Comey. "President, this is wrong, '?"

Mr Comey's testimony does "maximum damage" to Mr Trump, Prof Wright said. "Maybe if I did it again, I would do it better". "I was supposed to take her out to dinner that night".

"Trump Jr. started off the day by retweeting the GOP's "#BigLeagueTruth" campaign, which worked to defend the president during Comey's hearing. New York Times reporters corroborated Comey's timeline on Thursday after Kasowitz's statement.

"There is a cloud right now, I'll be the first to say it, and that cloud needs to be cleared up", he said.

The professor, Daniel Richman, confirmed to Reuters on Thursday that Comey was referring to him.

"That concerned me because that language tracked how the campaign was talking about the FBI's work and that's concerning", Comey said. "We had an investigation open at the time so that gave me a queasy feeling".

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee took advantage of Comey's mention of this in his opening statement to raise such questions about Sessions' recusal on Thursday.

Trump's personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, also brought up Comey's leaks in a statement after the hearing.

Griffin added that the legal case remains far from clear, and Trump's jeopardy "is more political than legal". She called Comey an "honorable individual".

"There should be no fuzz on this".