In "he said, he said" with Trump, Comey has distinct advantage on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON -- In his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey described a series of highly unusual meetings and phone calls in which President Trump bypassed Comey's boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to speak with Comey alone.

The investigation now pits a lawman with a long reputation for integrity against a president often ridiculed for falsehoods and conspiracy theories.

In a "he said, he said" between Mr. Trump and Comey, the fired FBI director has a distinct advantage on Capitol Hill, CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports.

"If it's his word against President Trump's, [Comey] comes out the winner," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, says.

Not one senator from the Intelligence Committee has questioned Comey's memory or veracity.

"I took it as, this is what he wants me to do," Comey said on Thursday, referring to his claim that Mr. Trump pressured him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn's ties with Russia.

Florida Republican Marco Rubio said Comey's startling admission -- that he leaked some notes last month -- only makes his story more believable.

"I was, quite frankly, impressed by his honesty," Rubio told reporters. "That's the first time I've ever seen a witness come before Congress and admit they leaked something through an intermediary to get it to the press."

Like most lawmakers, Rubio does not doubt that Comey felt pressured by the president.

"Whether it rises to criminality, I think there's significant doubts about whether it rises to that level," he said.

Some Republicans, like Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, did challenge Comey's interpretation of the president's words. "You may have taken it as a direction, but that's not what he said," Risch said, pressing Comey. "He said, 'I hope.'"

"Those are his exact words, correct," Comey responded.

The president claims that Comey's testimony vindicated him, but that it was also largely untrue. Comey argued you can't have it both ways.

"As I used to say to juries when I talked about a witness, you can't cherry pick it. You can't say, 'I like these things he said, but on this he's a dirty rotten liar.' You've got to take it all together, and I've tried to be open and fair and transparent and accurate," Comey said during his testimony.

Recordings, of course, would be the ultimate proof, and Friday the House Intelligence Committee sent a letter to the White House Counsel's Office asking them to hand over all tapes, if they exist, within the next two weeks.