Trump accuses Comey of untruths, but hedges about tapes

A defiant President Donald Trump on Friday accused former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey of committing perjury in his Senate testimony and said he was willing to share his version of events under oath with the special counsel overseeing the expanding Russia investigation.

Comey delivered scathing remarks about the president on Thursday at a congressional hearing and testified that Trump had asked him to drop a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into former aide Michael Flynn and his alleged ties to Russia. (See: Trump 'told lies, defamed me', Comey tells Congress)

"James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren`t true," Trump said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Asked by a reporter if he had told Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Flynn, Trump said, "I didn`t say that."

The reporter then asked, "So he lied about that?"

"Well, I didn`t say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn`t say that," Trump replied. "And there would be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I`ve read today, but I did not say that," he said.

Trump also refused to solve the mystery of whether he has tapes of his one-on-one conversations with Comey. Any such recordings could prove which man's account is accurate, but the president played coy - saying he would wait "a fairly short period of time" to tell the public whether any tapes exist, as he first suggested they might in May.

During a combative news conference, the president said Comey's testimony was politically motivated, contained falsehoods and failed to establish that Trump had colluded with Russians to win last year's election or had obstructed justice in seeking to end the federal government's probe.

"No collusion. No obstruction. He's a leaker," Trump said of Comey, adding, "We were very, very happy and, frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said. And some of the things that he said just weren't true."

Comey - who testified that he had taken contemporaneous notes of all his conversations with Trump - said he believed the president had fired him because of the Russia probe, told "lies" about Comey's record at the bureau and sought to redirect the probe away from former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump and his aides and allies followed a two-pronged rebuttal strategy: They hung onto snippets of Comey's testimony as categorical evidence of Trump's innocence while using other elements to try to impugn the former FBI director's credibility.

The president, who followed the advice of his lawyers to refrain from commenting Thursday, was characteristically pugnacious in his presentation Friday and opted mostly to deliver broadsides rather than address the details of Comey's testimony.

Regarding Comey's assertion that Trump had asked him during a one-on-one dinner in the White House to pledge his loyalty, the president said, "I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say, 'I want you to pledge allegiance.' Who would do that?"

When an ABC News reporter pointed out to Trump that Comey had made these statements under oath and asked the president - who has a long and well-documented history of telling falsehoods - whether he would be willing to provide his version of events under oath.

"One hundred per cent," Trump said.

Just as his personal lawyer and surrogates had on Thursday, Trump branded Comey a "leaker" on Friday for revealing in his testimony that he had asked a friend to pass along personal notes of Comey's conversations with Trump to a reporter.

Trump wrote in his Friday morning tweet, "WOW, Comey is a leaker!" And he repeated the charge at the Rose Garden news conference, telling reporters, "He's a leaker."

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal lawyer, was preparing to file a complaint early next week over Comey's testimony to the Justice Department's Inspector General's Office and the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to The Washington Post citing a person close to the legal team.

A spokesman for the Justice Department Inspector General declined to comment.

On Thursday, Kasowitz alleged in his statement to reporters that Comey "unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorised disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president"