Fired FBI Director James Comey revealed explosive accounts of his one-one conversations with President Donald Trump in his written testimony submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday.
Comey stated that Trump demanded his loyalty and asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. He also recounted that the President pressured him to make a public statement that he was not under investigation by the bureau.
He recalled having nine one-on-one conversations with Trump in four months—three in person and six on the phone. His first conversation with Trump happened on January 6, when he assured him that the bureau was not investigating him at the time. Comey said he “felt compelled to document” his first conversation with Trump in a memo—which became his practice since then.
January 27 dinner—Trump repeatedly demanded loyalty from Comey
Comey narrated in his testimony that Trump asked him if he wanted to remain as FBI Director during a private dinner at Trump at the White House Green Room on January 27. According to Comey, the President already told him twice in earlier conversations about his hope for him to stay in his job, so he found Trump’s question regarding the matter “strange” but replied, “I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten year term as Director.”
“A few moments later, the President said, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty. I didn’t move, speak or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence,” recounted Comey.
The former FBI director said Trump returned to the subject at the end of the dinner and repeated, “I need loyalty.” Comey replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” Trump said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” According to Comey, he paused and told the President “You will get that from me.” However, he clarified in his testimony that “it is possible we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently.
February 27 meeting–Trump asked Comey to drop probe on Flynn
Comey said Trump talked to him about Flynn after a scheduled counter-terrorism briefing at the Oval Office on February 14. The President repeatedly stated that Flynn hadn’t done wrong on his calls with the Russians and asked Comey to drop the bureau’s investigation against his former national security adviser.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” said Trump as recounted by Comey.
Comey expressed in his testimony that the President’s request was “very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.” He added that the bureau’s leadership team agreed with him and had no intention to abide Trump’s request. The bureau’s investigation into Flynn’s ties with Russia moved ahead at full speed. Comey also asked Attorney General Sessions to prevent any future direct communications between him and the President.
March 30 and April 11 phone calls
Comey recalled that on March 30, Trump told him that the Russia investigation is a “cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. The President requested him to find a way to lift the cloud.
Comey said he reminded Trump about their previous conversation that the bureau is not personally investigating him. He recalled the President repeatedly told him, “We need to get that fact out.”
On April 11, the former FBI director said the President once again asked him to make a public statement that he is not personally under investigation.
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