'Lies, plain and simple': Comey slams Trump administration for 'defaming' FBI after his firing

Former FBI director James Comey opened his highly anticipated congressional testimony by blasting President Donald Trump's "shifting explanations" for his firing.

Comey thanked his former colleagues at the investigative agency and apologized for leaving without saying goodbye after his abrupt dismissal last month.

"It confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation, and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russia investigation," Comey said. "I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn't make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made."

He said the firing took him by surprise because the president had expressed confidence in his leadership, and he was bewildered by the explanations the White House offered afterward.

The administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader," Comey said. Those were lies, plain and simple, ad I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I'm so sorry that the American people were told them."