Fired FBI Director James Comey will confirm news reports that President Donald Trump privately asked him to swear “loyalty” and to put an end to the bureau’s investigation into fired national security adviser Michael Flynn when he testifies Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to his prepared remarks.
The committee released a copy of Comey’s prepared opening statement nearly 20 hours ahead of his feverishly-anticipated appearance. In those prepared remarks, Comey recounts in painstaking detail five of the nine one-on-one conversations that he says he had with Trump before he was abruptly fired in early May.
Comey will testify that he told the President on three separate occasions that he was not personally targeted by the federal counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Trump has publicly claimed as much.
A key caveat, however, is that Comey was reluctant to make those same assurances in public “because it would create a duty to correct” if Trump were to become of a target of the investigation, according to the prepared statement.
Comey will say that he “felt compelled” to write detailed memos, which he shared with senior FBI leadership, about the three in-person interactions and six phone calls he had with Trump during the four months he served in Trump’s administration. He felt no need to do the same with regard to two private conversations he had with former President Barack Obama during his three years under Obama’s leadership, according to the prepared remarks.
His precaution was prompted by inappropriate requests made by the President, according to the statement, including a private dinner on Jan. 27 in which Trump told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Comey found that interaction “very awkward.”
Comey will say that in a Feb. 14 meeting in the Oval Office, one day after Flynn was forced out, Trump urged him to drop the investigation into the former national security adviser’s contacts with Russian officials.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump asked Comey, per the prepared remarks. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Though Comey never gave the President any indication that he would halt ongoing investigations, according to his statement, Trump continued to press him to do so. In a March 30 phone call, Comey says Trump spoke to him about a still largely-unsubstantiated dossier containing at times salacious allegations about the President and his campaign staffers.
In Comey’s retelling, Trump “described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’”
Comey’s opening remarks were released nearly one day early by his request, a Senate Intelligence Committee source told CNN.
Read his full statement below:
This post has been updated.