Comey's testimony by the numbers

Comey's testimony by the numbers
When Former FBI Director James Comey appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday in a highly anticipated hearing, he emphasized a few key words throughout his testimony that kept Washington buzzing long after the hearing adjourned. 
Words like “lied” in reference to President Trump, “fired” — about his own surprise dismissal by Trump last month — and phrases such as “I could be wrong” peppered Comey’s testimony and will be analyzed in the weeks to come.
Here’s a by-the-numbers rundown from Comey’s testimony:
2: The number of times Comey directly linked Trump to lying
At the beginning of the hearing, Comey said the Trump administration defamed him and the FBI "by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader."
"Those were lies, plain and simple," Comey said. "And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I'm so sorry that the American people were told them."
Later in the hearing, Comey said he started writing down his interactions with Trump because “I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
Comey also reconfirmed as true several statements he has made that Trump disputes, including whether Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
21: The number of times Comey said 'I don't know' 
During his testimony, Comey was unable to answer several questions because he said he did not know the answer, in several cases specifying that he could not speculate — such as on the reasons he was fired, or whether the president obstructed justice. He used the phrase “I don’t know” at least 21 times to respond to a question.
He also refused to speculate on people he said he did not know well enough “to read,” including the president and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.
Additional things Comey doesn’t know:
- How concerned Trump is about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
- Whether Trump asked any other member of his Cabinet to pledge their loyalty to him
- Whether Sessions had access to Russian investigation documents prior to his recusal 
- Whether an FBI agent has a legal duty to report a crime (he said, “They certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to”)
8: The number of times Comey said he could 'be wrong'
During the hearing, Comey appeared to question himself several times, saying in response to questions that he "could be wrong." That phrase earned him the moniker “James ‘I could be wrong’ Comey” from the Republican National Committee.
Comey used the phrase when asked to speculate about the reasons he was fired, and again several times when describing his impressions of private conversations he had with Trump.
Notably, he used the phrase when he described a meeting where the president asked Sessions and Kushner to leave the room so he could have a private conversation with Comey. 
“My impression was something big is about to happen,” Comey said. “I need to remember every single word that is spoken, and, again, I could be wrong, I'm 56 years old, I've been, seen a few things. My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving, which was why he was lingering, and I don't know Kushner well, but I think he picked up on the same thing so I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to.”
According to Comey, during the private conversation Trump asked him to “let this go,” in reference to the FBI’s investigation of Flynn.
15: The number of times Comey refused to respond in an open session
During the hearing, Comey also declined to answer several questions, demurring on the grounds that he couldn't talk about specific matters in an "open session." A closed session took place immediately following the open hearing.
Questions Comey likely addressed behind closed doors included these topics:
- If Flynn is a “central figure” in the investigation regarding alleged collusion between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia to influence the election
- Whether the FBI ever “came close” to closing the investigation into Flynn
- Whether the FBI reviewed the contents of conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador
- Details on why Sessions needed to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference
- Whether members of Trump’s campaign sought to establish unauthorized communication channels with Moscow
- Any relevant information about the Russian bank VEB, the chief executive of which Kushner allegedly met with prior to Trump’s election
11: The number of times Comey referred to being 'fired'
Comey, who was abruptly fired early last month by Trump, brought up or was asked about his dismissal several times Thursday. Trump’s decision to fire Comey sent shockwaves through Washington. Although the reason initially given by the White House for Comey’s dismissal was a memo critical of Comey’s job performance written by the deputy attorney general, later Trump indicated he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation. 
Comey said in the hearing that he takes the president “at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation.”
“The shifting explanations confused me and increasingly concerned me,” Comey said of his dismissal during the hearing. “They confused me because the president and I had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job, and he hoped I would stay.”
He added: “It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I obviously am hopelessly biased given I was the one fired.”
4: The number of times Comey praised Robert Mueller, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling
Comey, who worked with Mueller as deputy attorney general when Mueller was the director of the FBI, called Mueller one of the country’s “great, great pros,” “one of the finest people and public servants this country has ever produced,” and said he was the “right person” to lead the probe. 
“The appointment of a special counsel should offer great — especially given who that person is — great comfort to Americans,” Comey said.