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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Science

The murder hornets are here

A braver man than me holds a speciment of the Asian giant hornet. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.

Biden is highest-spending political candidate on TV ads

Joe Biden. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

After spending an additional $45.2 million on political ads this week, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the highest-spending political candidate on TV ads ever, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

By the numbers: In total, the Biden campaign has spent $582.7 million on TV ads between 2019 and 2020, officially surpassing Michael Bloomberg's record spend of roughly $582 million. Biden's spend includes his primary and general election advertising.

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