President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday after a probe found he improperly disclosed classified information about a meeting with the president and that the bureau had failed to fully investigate him.
The Senate intelligence committee, which is investigating Trump’s interactions with Russia, said it was holding a hearing to ask Comey’s firing for a full accounting of the FBI’s role in the probe.
Democrats said they would be pressing Comey to provide evidence on whether Trump pressured him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned last month amid revelations he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.
They said they also would be demanding more information from Comey about what Trump said and did during his meeting with Flynn, including whether Trump asked the former national intelligence director to drop Flynn’s investigation into Flynn.
Comey testified before the Senate panel in January that he did not disclose the existence of the probe to Pence or anyone else, and he also said he did so only to preserve the integrity of the investigation.
Republicans on the committee, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have repeatedly said they do not believe Comey was compromised by the investigation and that Trump’s dismissal of him was a result of his failure to fulfill his pledge to keep the FBI open.
Comey was appointed as FBI director in January to replace James Comey, who had been fired as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in July.
He had been leading the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
He was also a leading prosecutor in the Trump campaign’s probe into possible collusion between the Trump team and Russian operatives.
Comey’s dismissal comes as Trump is embroiled in a widening feud with Democrats over allegations that he fired Comey to prevent him from being investigated over his handling of the Russia investigation.
Trump has said that he was fired because he was unable to secure the FBI chief’s loyalty, but Comey’s testimony Tuesday, which he called “untruthful,” cast doubt on that.
He said he had been “overwhelmed” by the pressure on him to step down from the FBI and that he believed he had lost his ability to carry out his duties in a timely fashion.
“I lost confidence in myself, in the people I was dealing with, in our country, in myself,” he said.
“There were a lot of factors in play.”
Comey’s appearance before the committee is the second time that the panel has requested answers about the Russia probe.
On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to Comey, asking for documents on the FBI probe, as well as Comey’s response to its questions.
Comey has said he has been unable to answer all the questions because of the way the Russia investigations have unfolded.
The House Intelligence Committee also has requested information from the Justice Department on the investigation, but the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said the committee’s request was a “last-minute stunt” aimed at stalling the FBI from releasing information that could damage the president’s political future.
“The only thing we want is to see answers,” Schiff said.
Comey did not attend Tuesday’s hearing and was not allowed to be questioned.
“He was not permitted to answer any of our questions,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.
The committee has not received any evidence that Trump pressured Comey to drop his probe.
In the past, Trump has called the Russia probes a “witch hunt.”
Comey has testified that he is confident that his investigation will continue.
Comey said he believes the public is entitled to know whether Trump tried to obstruct justice.
“That’s what this is about,” Comey said.
He added that the public’s right to know is essential in a democracy.
“It’s about the truth, about the legitimacy of this process, and I don’t think we have that right in this country.”