'Entitled to expect loyalty': Trump allies defend president amid Comey testimony
Trump lawyer slams former FBI director for saying he leaked details of a conversation with president
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney said the president "never, in form or substance" directed former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating anyone, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Marc Kasowitz was responding to Comey's Thursday-morning testimony, in which the fired FBI director said Trump urged him to drop the investigation into Flynn's contacts with Russian officials.
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The president is "entitled to expect loyalty" from those serving the administration, Kasowitz said in a statement issued in the wake of Comey's morning testimony.
But Trump never told Comey, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," in form or substance, as Comey claimed, he said.
Kasowitz seized on Comey's affirmation that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation. Though Comey said he interpreted Trump's comments as a directive to shut down the Flynn investigation, Kasowitz also maintained that Comey's testimony showed that the president "never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey 'let Flynn go."'
Kasowitz also slammed the former FBI chief for saying he leaked details of a conversation with the president. Kasowitz said that Trump will leave it to "the appropriate authorities" to determine whether Comey's leak "should be investigated along with all those others being investigated."
Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump 'learning as he goes,' says Ryan
The Republican National Committee and other White House allies worked feverishly to lessen any damage from the hearing, trying to undermine Comey's credibility by issuing press releases and even ads pointing to a past instance where the FBI had had to clean up the director's testimony to Congress.
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House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday defended Trump, saying the president is "learning as he goes" about government and probably did not fully understand the protocols that keep the FBI separate from the presidency.
Ryan was asked about Comey's account that Trump pushed him to drop the Flynn investigation. Comey also testified in the Senate that the request made him uncomfortable and spurred him to write detailed memos of his conversations with Trump.
Ryan said he had not been watching the hearings but said of Trump: "He's new in government, and so therefore I think he's learning as he goes," Ryan told reporters at a news conference.
"I'm not saying it's an acceptable excuse. It's just my observation."
Ryan said Trump is probably frustrated that speculation has swirled around him even after being told by Comey three times that he was not directly under investigation.
With files from Reuters