ASHEVILLE, NC — The audience of about 50 was seated at Asheville Pizza and Brewing at 10 a.m. Thursday, eager to hear former FBI director James Comey testify. And for two-and-a-half hours, the group watched the former FBI director field questions from Democrat and Republican senators on the Intelligence Committee.
“It seems to be a conversation that's based on factual evidence,” said one woman who came to watch.
Comey confirmed what had been reported by the press in days leading up to the hearing, saying President Donald Trump had pressured him in private to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Mike Flynn and ties to Russia. Comey also stated Trump had lied to the public when he said the FBI was in disarray.
Comey discussed in detail a one-one-one meeting with Trump, where he said Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and top advisor Jared Kushner to leave the room, leaving the president alone with Comey.
Comey also addressed a threat the president tweeted last month, warning Comey not to leak information since Trump said there were tapes.
“Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said to the committee.
The White House has not directly confirmed if recordings of the two men’s private conversations exist.
“I hope there are tapes,” Marsha Fretwell said.
Bryson Ley was surprised Trump never asked Comey more about Russia's election meddling when they were in private.
“I thought that was really striking,” Ley said.
“I understand Comey,” said Beach Barrett, who wanted to learn how Comey felt about Trump as a human being. “I feel a lot better identified with him (Comey).”
Robbie Sweetser was happy to see the commission probing for truth when it comes to Russia meddling in the election, which Comey stated he was certain had taken place.
“It’s not fake news,” said Sweetser. “It's legit news that needs to be investigated. Congress and the country needs to be taking it seriously.”