While watching today’s US Senate testimony by former FBI director James Comey, it was hard not to start playing “Who will play who in the movie.” All The President’s Men is arguably the best thing to have come out of the Watergate scandal, and it’s been a while since US politics has provided material for a similarly captivating plot.
It helps that Comey already writes, and speaks, like a screenwriter. To give Hollywood a head start, below are the lines from his testimony that will have to end up in the movie.
“Those were lies, plain and simple”
James Comey on president Donald Trump’s claim that he fired him because the FBI was a mess.
“I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting… It led me to believe I got to write it down, and I got to write it down in a very detailed way.”
Comey on why he decided to start making notes of his conversations with Trump, something he had not done with Barack Obama.
“What the president whispered in my ear was ‘I really look forward to working with you.'”
Comey on an interaction with Trump before he was president.
“At one point the attorney general asked me not to call it an ‘investigation,’ but to call it a ‘matter.'”
Comey on how Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, asked him to describe the probe into Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails.
“Did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation?” “No.” “Did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation?” “No.”
Democratic senator Mark Warner asks Comey whether Trump had questioned him about anything other than the Russia probe.
“You don’t know of anyone who’s ever been charged for hoping something, do you?”
Republican senator James Risch. Comey had testified that Trump had said to him, of the probe into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn, “I hope you can let this go.” Risch was implying that “hoping” for something does not constitute obstruction of justice by the president.
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”
Comey on Donald Trump’s tweet that seemed to warn that their conversations had been recorded. Comey testified that the tweet was what prompted him to leak his memos of the conversations, via a friend, to the press.
“I believe the timing of your firing stinks. The odor of presidential abuse of power is strong.”
Democratic senator Ron Wyden, to Comey.
“My mother raised me not to say things like this about myself.”
Comey being coy when asked why his word should be believed over the president’s.
“There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. “
Comey, on Trump’s claims that the Russia investigation was “fake news.”
“They’ll be back.”
Comey on Russian meddling in US elections.
“I don’t think Putin is a Republican, nor a Democrat. He is an opportunist.”
Independent senator Angus King, on Russia’s interest in the election.
“That’s one of the all-time greatest excuses for breaking a date.”
King, responding after Comey said he broke a date with his wife to have dinner with the president.
“Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”
Comey, using a quote attributed to King Henry II, on why he interpreted Trump’s “hope” that the Flynn investigation could be put to rest as a “direction.” (Four knights heard Henry’s complaint and murdered the priest, Thomas Becket, the next day.)
“The president has informed around 6 billion people that he’s not real fond of this investigation.”
Republican senator James Lankford. Comey had testified that he had not told FBI agents working on the Russia investigation about his conversations with Trump, for fear that they would feel pressured. Lankford was observing that Trump’s views about it were on Twitter for all to see.
“As difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.”
Comey on the Russians.
“Release all the tapes, I am good with it.”
Comey about Donald Trump’s threat to release recordings of their meetings.
“I’m between opportunities now.”
Comey on being out of a job after being fired from the FBI.
“Well, there’s a reason that was given but I just don’t buy it… I was fired because of the Russia investigation… That is a very big deal.”
Comey on why he was fired.