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Alex Brandon / AP

James Comey testified Thursday that President Trump told him "I need loyalty" and directed him to back off the investigation of Michael Flynn. Trump, via his lawyer, denied both of those claims.

The reactions to those comments exposed a notable split between Trump's inner circle and other high-profile Republicans, many of whom seemed to take Comey's version of events at face value.

Why it matters: As the Russia "cloud" casts a wider shadow across the Trump administration, the president will need his party to remain firmly behind him to avoid disastrous results. While the statements thus far don't indicate that Trump has lost his party, they do indicate that he doesn't have the implicit trust of many top Republicans.

Trusting Trump:
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy press secretary: "I can definitively say the president isn't a liar."
  • Donald Trump, Jr.: "Today's Winners: @realDonaldTrump, the DOW, America/#MAGA. Losers: Comey, Loretta Lynch, #MSM but especially NYT"
  • Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal lawyer: "The President also never told Mr. Comey, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty' in form or substance."
  • Dan Scavino, White House director of social media: "#FakeNews @NYTimes confirmed by James Comey."
  • The RNC: "James 'I could be wrong'" Comey. #ComeyHearing #BigLeagueTruth"
  • Katrina Pierson, Trump's national campaign spokesperson: "BREAKING NEWS! #FakeNews gets outed again. #FakeRussianConspiracy costing tax payers millions! #comeyhearings #ComeyDay"
Trusting Comey:
  • Sen. Richard Burr: "I'm on the record saying I trust James Comey."
  • Paul Ryan: "The president's new at this. He's new to government."
  • Chris Christie: "What you're seeing is a president who is now very publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers to be normal New York City conversation."
  • Bill O'Reilly: "That damages the President because no one knows exactly why Trump was disenchanted. The innuendo of a coverup is there."
  • Sen. James Risch: On Comey's opening statement, "This is as good as it gets, and I really appreciate that. Not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened, and you actually have them in quotes, so we know exactly what happened, and we're not getting some rendition of it. You're to be complimented on it."
  • Other senators on the committee, including Marco Rubio and John McCain, seemed to be taking Comey's version of events at face value.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Ysidro, California, in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.