this is "nightline." >> tonight, he said, he said. >> those were lies. plain and simple. >> we know that the truth will prevail. >> both sides claiming the other is lying. questions of obstruction of jus advertise unresolved. former fbi director james comey's dramatic testimony confirming he informed the president three times that he was not under investigation. but relating what he calls disturbi ining conversations wi president trump behind closed doors. >> i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it really important to document. >> a blunt assessment of russia's interference. >> we're talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods, tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act.
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the president is no liar. after former fbi director james comey took center stage in a hearing that captivated the nation. and set the scene for the investigation that will likely plague the administration for months if not years to come. at the heart of the inquiry, a present found question. how extensive was the russian interference in our election? and did the president attempt to obstruct an investigation into their involvement? here's abc's david wright. >> reporter: today in washington, a political spectacle. >> raise your right hand -- >> reporter: a rare senate committee hearing, in political circles must-see tv. >> please be seated. >> reporter: former fbi director james comey -- >> director comey, you're now under oath. >> reporter: for the first time since he was fired giving his views on the investigation he led into russian meddling in the november election. >> we're talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other
methods, tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. that is a big deal. >> reporter: the question looming today, how did that investigation put him so much at odds with the trump administration that the president ended up firing him? >> 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 workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies. plain and simple. >> reporter: comey made it clear that as he sees it, the president's goal was to derail the russia investigation, first by pressuring him -- >> my common sense, i could be wrong, but my common sense told me what's going on here is he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> reporter: and ultimately by firing him. >> why do you believe you were fired? >> because -- i don't know for sure, i believe the president in his word that i was fired
because of the russia investigation. something about the way i was conducting it. the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. >> this was the super bowl of congressional hearings. i spoke to people who were lining up outside this committee room at 4:00 a.m., the line so long it snaked through two separate senate buildings. >> perhaps the biggest question today, was there obstruction of justice? dan abrams, what do you think? >> it's still unclear. james comey did make one thing clear which is that he was directed, in his view, to end a portion of the investigation with regard to michael flynn. >> reporter: flynn is the nsa director trump ultimately fired after it was exposed that he lied about his conversations with the russian ambassador. comey says the president privately asked him to go easy on flynn. >> i took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states with me alone saying, i hope this. i took it as, this is what hadn'ts me to do. i didn't obey that, but that's the way i took it. >> the president wanted to speak
to him alone, which in and of itself is an extraordinary thing. that doesn't happen very often. and the reason from listening to jim comey's testimony, the reason was because the president understood what he was going to ask was something he wanted to keep secret. people keep things secret when they have guilty knowledge about it. >> reporter: comey made it clear today that's not how the fbi normally works. >> the statue of justic blindfold on, you're not supposed to be peeking out to see if your patron is please the about what you're doing. it should be about the facts and law. >> reporter: comey detailed his growing unease with the president, starting with their first one-on-one meeting at trump tower during the transition. afterwards comey wrote down his account of the meeting on his laptop. >> i was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting. and so i thought it really important to document it. >> reporter: comey says his interactions with the president got even more awkward from there. >> he's become more famous than me. >> you've seen the picture of me
walking across the blue room. what the president whispered in my ear was "i really look forward to working with you." >> reporter: yet almost a week later the president invited him for dinner at the white house. in an interview the president insisted comey invite him south. >> i think he ask the for the dinner. >> did you in any way initiate that dinner? >> no he called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me, was i free for dinner that night? >> reporter: it was at that dinner that comey claims trump asked for a pledge of loyalty. comey says he deferred, promising the president honesty instead. >> it got very walk regard. i then said, you'll always have honesty from me. he said, honest loyalty. i acceded to that as a way to end this awkwardness. >> i've seen the tweet about tapes. lordy, i hope there are tapes. >> reporter: comey insisted he's not worried tapes about
contradict him. >> the president surely knows whether he taped me. if he did, my feelings aren't hurt, release all the tapes, i'm good with it. >> you may disagree with certain things that he did. but the notion that he's making these stories up? i think that's going to be a tough sell. >> reporter: today president trump's ears must have been burning. >> the president's legal team and his senior advisers were huddled in a private dining room, a small dining room near the oval office, watching the comey hearing unfold. the president was in there for part of the hearing watching as well. >> reporter: comey was still testifying when trump spoke at a religious conference in washington. >> the entrenched interests and failed bitter voices in washington will do everything in their power to try and stop us from this righteous cause to try to stop all of you. >> reporter: the president did not concede an inch. >> we know that the truth will prevail. >> reporter: but the president hasn't exactly made his case
clear. first claiming he got rid of comey under the recommendation of the top brass at the justice department. later admitting to lester holt there were other considerations too. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing there was no good time to do it. and in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know? this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> reporter: pressed on the issue today, comey said he took the president at his word. but declined to say whether what the president did was illegal. >> do you believe this will rise to obstruction of justice? >> i don't know. that's bob mueller as job to sort that out. >> reporter: bob mueller, comey's predecessor as fbi director, the two men have known each other for years. mueller now serving as special counsel to complete the russia investigation. today comey admitted that after his firing, he leaked the content of his own memos in an effort to ensure the justice
department would appoint a special counsel. >> i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons. i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. >> ladies and gentlemen, i'm marc kasowitz, president trump's personal lawyer. >> reporter: today the president's own lawyer took comey to task for leaking. >> we will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated. >> even suggested maybe comey could be prosecuted for that. a very aggressive response and pushback from the white house to jim comey's testimony. >> reporter: overall kasowitz seized on a few key moments of comey's testimony that he says vindicate his client. >> mr. comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told president trump
privately. that is, that the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into russian interference. >> reporter: comey did admit he reassured the president at least three separate times that he personally was not a target of the investigation. the president asked him to say so publicly. >> the specific ask was that you would tell the american people what you had already told him, what you had already told the leaders of congress, both democrat and republican, that he was not personally under investigation. >> yes, sir. >> that he was asking you to do what you have done here today? >> correct, yes, sir. >> reporter: comey said he thought it best not to do so because if circumstances changed there would be a duty to correct the record. >> do you believe donald trump colluded with russia? >> it's a question i don't think i should answer. in an open setting. as i said, we -- when i left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. but that's a question that will be answered by the
investigation, i think. >> reporter: for his part, house speaker paul ryan today suggested trump's clashes with comey likely resulted from naivete, not for nefarious reasons. >> the president's new at this. he's new to government. he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between doj, fbi, and white houses. ♪ >> reporter: one party involved must be delighted at how this is all shaking out. >> i think that the russians are exactly thinking, this is mission accomplished. beyond their sort of wildest expectations. not only did they influence the election in the way that they intended, but they also have sort of sewn all of this disorder and chaos. >> reporter: the president may well have discovered that governing in washington isn't as straightforward as hosting "the apprentice."
sidelining james comey wasn't so simple as just telling him "you're fired." i'm david wright for "nightline" in new york. and next, "rose ann" star laura metcalf back on broadway starring in a new chapter to one of the world's most iconic plays. we can't stay here! why? terrible toilet paper! i'll never get clean! way ahead of you, big daddy. aww. (avo) charmin ultra strong. it's washcloth-like texture helps clean better. it's four times stronger and you can use less. beautiful view. thanks to charmin. and you, honeybear. awwwww. (avo) we all go. why not enjoy the go with charmin?
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wright. >> here's where i live, right here. >> reporter: she's home again. back on broadway. and up for a tony award this sunday. actress laurie metcalfe, famous for creating comedic gold without even saying a word. >> if you cause a scandal, he won't be able to marry me, and there goes my future, gone. then see this? dot dot dot. that's where i do my thing. >> do you practice in front of the mirror? >> no. >> how does it work? >> no, i guess what i feel just comes out a lot in my face. i guess. >> doing something was leaving! >> reporter: mess catcalf putti those skills to house? "a doll's house part 2" on broadway, and in the upcoming revival of "the roseanne show" on abc. >> is this the sink? am i shrinking? >> reporter: she played sister jackie for nine seasons, winning three emmy awards.
the politically charged series about a working-class family is coming back next year. i wonder if they're trump voters? >> i don't know. there might be one or two in the mix. >> reporter: the surprise announcement of the "roseanne" revival featured the cast reunited on that couch at this year's season preview. >> the "roseanne" reboot is going to be huge. i hope we do it proud. and this thing, it doesn't get any better than to be doing a show on broadway. >> reporter: metcalf has been busy since "roseanne" ended its run. she played andy's mom in the "toy story" movies. >> andy, let's go, molly's already in her car seat. >> reporter: and sheldon's mom on "big bang theory." >> go to your room! >> i'm a grown man. >> reporter: but it's in the theater that she feels most at home. >> he and i are still married, did you know? >> reporter: this is her fourth tony nomination. >> this is my comfort zone here. the film and tv is i feel a
little self-conscious. >> you've got three emmy awards already. sunday, fingers crossed? so just a grammy and an oscar away? >> well, i don't know. that's not going to happen. >> reporter: the role of nora in "a doll's house" is one of the iconic roles in all of theater. >> i don't love you anymore. >> reporter: a doll's house is henrik ibsen's most famous play, adapted for the screen many times. >> you'll get your ring back. >> reporter: a domestic tragedy about a woman who gradually realizes she can no longer bear to stay in her sham of a marriage. >> good-bye. >> she's an iconic feminist character. a victorian-era woman who leaves her suffocating marriage and her three children. >> yes. >> and walks out the door. >> yes. >> hold on i'm coming! >> "part 2" opens with a knock on the door.
15 years of complete silence from her, the family doesn't know what has become of her, you also don't know when she shows up what she's been doing to provide for herself. >> reporter: nora and lucas part 2 is financially independent and happily liberated. she's made her own way in the world. >> yes. >> and yet this decision came at huge cost. >> yes. >> for her and everyone else. >> yes, and she has to deal with that as she meets each character one by one in the show. >> reporter: 15 years of therapy packed into an hour and a half play. as she puts it, the play is like a round robin boxing match on marriage and motherhood. >> then i come over here, yes, we want to be intimate with another person, to know that person. why does there have to be a marriage to do that? why does it have to be just with one person and for the rest of your life? it seems so sad. standing right here. and we know that it's sad. we know it. >> you're right, it is like a
boxing ring. >> it is, right? yeah. we need the ding between scenes. >> you want me to fix this too? is that what you're really saying? [ bleep ] you, nora. [ bleep ] you. >> reporter: the language, salty. the emotions, direct. the situation, entirely modern. >> it's fun to do a comedy. i'll call it a comedy. it's a dromedy, maybe. there's a lot of comedy in it. >> a comagedy. >> reporter: the "roseanne" revival promises a similar rich vein to mine. >> we're going to go back to the same house where the connors lived and the same couch. >> the same couch still exists? >> oh, i'm sure. i'm sure. >> reporter: the world has changed a lot since 1997. but the comedy of that working class family in the heartland, timeless. remember the dad's dead scene? >> he's passed away! dad is gone! dad's dead!
>> i'll tell you something interesting about that little clip there. it was written by norm macdonald. >> really? >> norm was a writer and he wrote that little monologue. >> then she ends up saying -- >> "he's fine." >> he's fine, he sends his love. >> reporter: the show never shy of tackling the big issues of the day. >> that it's time for me to, um, get some birth control. >> reporter: and in the trump era, the writers will have plenty of new opportunities and challenges. the series finale, there are some complications there. >> there's complications. >> she kills off john goodman. >> yes. and we were millionaires. >> having won the lottery. and she outed you as being gay. >> and i don't know how any of that's going to be dealt with. >> no idea? >> i don't know. no, i don't. roseanne will find a way. i can't wait to read the first one. >> reporter: i'm david wright for "nightline" in new york. >> and we'll be right back. garfunkel (instrumental)
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>> tomorrow, some call her a traitor, others a hero. after just being released from seven years in prison, transgender u.s. army soldier chelsea manning speaking out at her first tv interview with my "nightline" coanchor juju chang. the exclusive breaks tomorrow on gma. we'll have a "nightline" special edition with chelsea manning next week. thank you for watching abc news. as always, we're online at abcnews.com and our "nightline" facebook page. thanks for the company, america. good night.