WASHINGTON ― Former FBI Director James Comey said Thursday that the White House had lied and defamed him and the FBI by saying he had lost the faith of bureau.
Speaking before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said the Donald Trump administration chose to "defame me" and the FBI by saying the bureau was in chaos and that he had lost FBI employees' trust.
"Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey said.
He called leading the organization the honor of his life.
"I am so sorry that I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to you properly," Comey said, directly addressing FBI employees.
After Comey was fired, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed she had talked to "countless" FBI agents, and that "the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director."
The acting head of the FBI, as well as most reporters covering the FBI, say that isn't true.
But Comey said he believed the FBI will "be fine without me."
Comey wrote extensive contemporaneous memos about his conversations with Trump. He said he was worried that Trump might mislead the public about their discussions. "I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting," Comey said.
Later in his testimony, Comey also noted that the president, not he, had initiated their February dinner, contrary to what Trump told NBC's Lester Holt.
This story has been updated with additional comment from Comey's testimony.