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Former FBI director James Comey rocked Washington Thursday in testimony before Congress on alleged efforts by President Donald Trump to influence the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, said that Comey's testimony "should concern any American who respects the basic rule of law and our democratic institutions". "Those were lies, plain and simple".

The senator was trying to "reduce this to the lowest common denominator, that at the end of the day, the president was not trying to obstruct the investigation", said Kenneth Khachigian, a former aide to President Richard Nixon and speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan.

"I had to call my wife and break a date with her", Comey said. "I was so stunned by the conversation I just took it in".

The line for the public to attend Thursday's hearing snaked down the hall and around the corner, and was full of Capitol Hill interns, hoping to get a first-hand look at this moment in history.

Mr. Comey's testimony also makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election, and, in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the president told Mr. Comey "it would be good to find out" in that investigation if there were "some "satellite" associates of his who did something wrong".

Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman is a close friend of former FBI Director James Comey.

Comey held a packed and tense hearing room at attention as he recounted his version of the interactions leading up to his dismissal - and the steps he took after the president fired him, on May 9. White House officials responded by claiming Priebus asked Comey and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to knock down the reports after they privately told him the information wasn't accurate.

"What I think it should do is it should move the ball in showing that the investigation is unwarranted and to move on so that we can to deal with the issues important to the country and important to the American people who elected Trump to be president..." said DiMicco, former chief executive of Nucor, America's largest steel company.

Mr Comey didn't, he said, have the "presence of mind" or the courage to tell the President his request was inappropriate.

"I woke up in the middle of the night Monday (thinking) that there might be corroboration for our conversation", Mr Comey testified. "I was also confused by the initial explanation offered publicly that I was sacked because of decisions I'd made during the election..." I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.

While numerous particulars of Comey's testimony had been previously reported, the picture of the former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief, known for his integrity, taking the oath to tell the truth about Trump under penalty of perjury was a powerful one and not comforting to the White House.

Second, without the statements that Comey attributes to Trump, it's entirely possible that Mueller would not have considered himself to have the jurisdiction to investigate Trump's activities in Russian Federation.

Kasowitz added that Comey's assertion that Trump asked him for loyalty on multiple occasions did not coordinate with the facts. James Risch asked whether he was aware of anyone ever being charged with obstruction of justice for saying they hoped for something, like Trump supposedly hoped he would lay off Flynn? Jim RischJim RischComey delivers dramatic rebuke of Trump Trump, GOP plot path for agenda GOP senators meet with administration officials on tax reform MORE (R-Idaho). "Why would you kick everyone out of the Oval Office?" By contrast, he said he didn't take notes of personal dealings with two other presidents, George W Bush and Barack Obama, suggesting that he never doubted their integrity.

Comey even poked fun at the president, alluding to Trump's threat to release tapes of the conversations that led to his firing - it's not clear whether such tapes actually exist, or whether Trump made it up in a tweet to menace Comey.

But Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the information policy committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, late on Thursday dismissed Comey's testimony as a "big bubble".

But Comey indicated for the first time that the president's conduct fell under the scope of the broader counterintelligence investigation.