Developments in Washington, D.C., on Thursday include fired FBI Director James Comey testifying before a Senate committee about his conversations with President Donald Trump; several Washington bars opening early for viewing parties of the Senate hearing; the president keeping a full schedule including speaking to his evangelical supporters, and some U.S. cities and states saying they were still abiding by the Paris climate agreement, from which Trump withdrew the U.S. last week.
WATCH: Highlights of Comey testimony
Fired FBI Director: Trump Wanted Loyalty, Halt to Flynn Probe -- Fired FBI Director James Comey says President Donald Trump expected him to pledge his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into links between Trump's aides and Russian officials. Comey's nearly three-hour appearance Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee marked his first public comments about nine conversations he said he had with the president in the months before he was fired. The event was covered live by the major U.S. television networks, and seen around the world.
WATCH: Trump's attorney comments after Comey testimony
Fired FBI Chief Testifies About His Conversations With Trump -- Comey told U.S. lawmakers Thursday that Trump expected him to pledge his loyalty and urged him to drop the investigation into links between his aides and Russian officials. Trump ousted Comey last month, saying he was thinking of "this Russia thing" when he decided to dismiss the chief of the country's top criminal investigative agency while he was leading its Russia probe. Comey's appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee marked his first public comments about the nine conversations he said he had with the president in the months before he was fired — three face-to-face meetings and six phone calls.
DC Bars to Open Early for Comey Viewing Parties -- While it’s unclear how much the rest of the country is eagerly awaiting Thursday’s testimony from Comey, for Washingtonians, the event is must-see TV, prompting some bars to open as early to host viewing parties.
WATCH: Trump speaks to evangelical supporters
Trump Uncharacteristically Quiet on Day of Historic Testimony -- Trump has uncharacteristically refrained from making comments about Thursday's congressional testimony by the FBI director he fired a month ago. The president, in a speech a few kilometers from the White House and on his favorite social media platform, made no reference to Comey, who accused Trump of removing him from his job to undermine the FBI's investigation into suspected collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign team and Russia.
Some US States, Cities Say ‘We Are Still In’ Paris Agreement -- Many U.S. states, cities and businesses say they will forge ahead with the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, even though President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal. The U.S. under President Barack Obama pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
WATCH: Farmers ponder new farm bill
With Republicans, Trump in Charge, Farmers Ponder New Farm Bill -- Illinois farmer Gerald Thompson says he is not upset with Trump, the candidate he voted for in the 2016 general election. “I think Trump is a good businessman and he’ll see the value in what agriculture has to offer,” he said. But Thompson is among a majority of Americans who disapprove of the performance of the U.S. Congress. “Until we get rid of 90 percent of the politicians, put in term limits and put people there that actually go to work for the right reasons, we’re going to have problems,” he told VOA.
US Lawmakers Agree Fixes Needed in Health Service for Native Americans -- The U.S. government is obligated to provide free health care to federally recognized tribes in exchange for the millions of hectares of land they ceded to the government. The Indian Health Service (IHS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is the agency that provides that care. But the service has been plagued with scandal and accusations of mismanagement since it was formed more than 60 years ago, including the forced sterilization of Native American women in the 1960s and 1970s. ?Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have heeded calls for reform and in May introduced parallel bills calling for a complete overhaul of the IHS.
WATCH: NATO chief on discussions with Russia
NATO Chief: 'Have to be Strong' in Response to Russia But Dialogue Important -- The head of NATO says members of the alliance are united in their stance toward Russia in a way they have not been for many years. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday in an interview with VOA's Serbian Service that NATO is committed to stepping up its defense while at the same time continuing dialogue with Russia.
House Votes to Roll Back Post-2008 Financial Rules -- The Republican-led House approved sweeping legislation Thursday to undo much of former President Barack Obama's landmark banking law created after the 2008 economic crisis that caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and homes. The largely party-line vote was 233-186, as Republicans argued the rules designed to prevent another meltdown were making it harder for community banks to lend and hampered the economy.
Clinton to Graduates: 'Never Let Anyone Silence Your Voice' -- Losing the 2016 presidential election was “pretty devastating, especially considering who I lost to,” Hillary Clinton told graduates of Medgar Evers College on Thursday. But Clinton said that setback “pales in comparison” to the heartbreak endured by Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of the slain black civil rights leader for whom the Brooklyn college is named.
Germany's Merkel: EU Must Compromise to Get Trade Deal with Mercosur -- The European Union must compromise if it wants to reach a trade accord with South American trade bloc Mercosur, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference on Thursday after a meeting with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Merkel said German agriculture had its own interests, but Germany supported Argentina's push to reach a trade deal with the EU quickly. She said "great progress" had already been made.
Diplomats: US Wary of French Push for UN to Back Sahel Force -- The United States is wary of a French push for the U.N. Security Council to authorize a West African force to combat terrorism and trafficking in the Sahel region because it does not want the world body to help fund it, diplomats said on Thursday.