Former FBI Director James Comey will tell the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that President Donald Trump asked him for his loyalty during a dinner in January and, during an Oval Office meeting in February, to drop the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to,” Comey will say, according to his prepared remarks which were published by the committee Wednesday.
Comey will continue: “I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not ‘reliable’ in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.
“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. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner.”
Comey will also tell Congress about his conversation with Trump during an Oval Office meeting on February 14, in which Trump told him he wanted to talk about Flynn.
“Flynn had resigned 5 the previous day,” Comey’s prepared testimony says. “The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.”
“‘[Flynn] is a good guy and has been through a lot,'” Comey recalls Trump as saying. “He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, ‘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.’
“I replied only that ‘he is a good guy.’ (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.’ The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.”
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