Former FBI Director James Comey will testify on Thursday that when President Donald Trump asked him for loyalty, “awkward silence” ensued.
According to Comey’s prepared remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee, released on Wednesday, Trump called him during lunchtime one day in late January and invited him to dinner, and Comey had assumed others would be there.
“My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship,” Comey’s remarks say. “That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.”
According to the remarks, Trump began by asking Comey whether he wanted to stay on as FBI director. Comey said he found the question odd because the president had previously said he hoped Comey would stay on and Comey had assured him he intended to remain in his position.
A little while later, Comey’s remarks say, Trump said, “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.”
His remarks continued: “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.”
They moved on from the topic for a little while, but then Trump broached it again near the end of their dinner, Comey’s remarks say.
“He then said, ‘I need loyalty.’ I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty.’ I paused, and then said, ‘You will get that from me.'”
Comey was abruptly fired on May 9. His appearance before the Senate on Thursday will be his first public comments since the firing.