Thur. 10:45 a.m.: Comey says White House ‘defamed’ him and FBI

WASHINGTON (AP) – James Comey says President Donald Trump’s administration spread “lies, plain and simple” and “defamed” him and the FBI.

The former FBI director opened his Senate testimony a short time ago by stating that the administration’s explanations for his firing confused and concerned him. He didn’t say what the lies were.

The ousted FBI director says at the start of his high-profile Senate hearing that President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job. Comey says he told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.

Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Comey was expected to recount a series of interactions with the president in the weeks before his firing that he will say made him uncomfortable.

Those include a January dinner in which he says Trump asked him for his loyalty, and a White House conversation weeks later in which he says Trump asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.