WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald 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 James 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.
The president, during a White House meeting with governors and mayors about infrastructure, ignored shouted questions about Comey during a brief media photo opportunity.
Hours earlier, Trump said "we're under siege" when he spoke to the Faith and Freedom Coalition at a Washington hotel. "We will not back down from doing what is right."
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Using language similar to that in some of his other recent speeches, Trump added, "We know how to fight and we will never give up."
Direct public comment about Comey's blunt testimony was left to Trump's outside personal counsel and the president's namesake son, who was active on Twitter during the Comey testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
1/3 Flynn stuff is BS in context 2 guys talking about a guy they both know well. I hear "I hope nothing happens but you have to do your job"— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
Did I miss something or did Comey just say he asked a friend to leak information to the press? Is this a joke?— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
Never in form or substance did Trump ask for Comey's loyalty, nor did the president try to impede any federal investigation, lawyer Marc Kasowitz told reporters at the National Press Club.
The president's personal attorney zeroed in on the disclosure of purported memos that Kasowitz called "privileged communications" with the president that Comey Thursday acknowledged disseminating to the media via a law professor friend to prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
"The president feels completely vindicated," said Kasowitz, who took no questions from reporters at the Press Club.
During Comey's testimony, Donald Trump Jr. provided a running commentary on his Twitter feed.
Trump Jr. said Comey's testimony indicated that his father's words and actions were "very far from any kind of coercion or influence and certainly not obstruction!"
Commenting on Comey's assertion that he interpreted the president's "I hope" comment as "direction" to end the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Trump Jr. tweeted the following:
3/3 Knowing my father for 39 years when he "orders or tells" you to do something there is no ambiguity, you will know exactly what he means— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 8, 2017
During Thursday's more than two hours of testimony, Comey said the White House "chose to defame" him and the FBI by saying that under his leadership the bureau was in disarray.
"Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey told senators and a global audience watching live on television.
While Comey was testifying, the principal deputy White House press secretary took to the podium and was asked about Comey's comments.
"I can definitively say the president is not a liar," said Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "It's frankly insulting that the question would be asked."
Asked how much of the televised Comey testimony Trump may have watched before departing the White House for his mid-day speech, Sanders replied she was unaware of the amount and described it "as a regular Thursday at the White House."