A White House official told CNN that Trump would not be watching the hearing in its entirety, but his aides and his personal attorney on the Russia investigation, Marc Kasowitz, would be monitoring the hearing.
Aides were keeping the president busy in meetings from 10 a.m until about 1.30 pm. He had meetings at the White House at 10 and 10.30 a.m. and left at noon, during the very heated part of Comey’s testimony and Q&A session with the senators, to attend the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference. He was scheduled to deliver a speech at 12:30 p.m and was not expected to return to the White House until 1:30 p.m. At this point the hearing had moved behind closed doors and was no longer being broadcast to the public.
During his opening statement, which some Twitter users likened to a Shonda Rhimes monologue, Comey called Trump and his administration liars for what they said regarding the circumstances surrounding his abrupt dismissal in May.
“The administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple,” Comey told the committee.
On his decision to document in memos his meetings with Trump, Comey said, “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
Not even that inflammatory statement could draw Trump out.
But deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders could not help herself, even though the White House had previously said it would not comment on the hearing today. She told reporters during a press briefing: “No, I can definitively say the president is not a liar. It’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked.