WASHINGTON – Former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that he documented his meetings with President Donald Trump because he “was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
Comey wrote in his testimony for the committee that was published on Wednesday that he had nine one-one-one conversations with Trump between January and April. He wrote that he first met with Trump on January 6 to brief Trump on a dossier containing allegations of ties between his campaign and Moscow, and “felt compelled to document” that meeting in a memo.
“To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting,” Comey wrote.
Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, noted during Thursday’s hearing that Comey has “had extensive experience at the Department of Justice and at the FBI” and has worked for presidents of both parties.
“What was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?” Warner asked.
Comey responded that it was a number of things.
“I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with. Circumstances first, I was alone with the … president-elect of the United States. The subject matter, I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility and that relate to the president-elect personally. And then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting, and so I thought it really important to document.”
Comey continued: “That combination of things I’d never experienced before, but it led me to believe that I’ve got to write it down and I’ve got to write it down in a very detailed way.”
In his prepared testimony, Comey went into more detail about his notes on his meetings with Trump.
“Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward,” Comey said of his first meeting with Trump. “This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone.”
Comey also wrote in his prepared testimony that Trump asked him for loyalty during their dinner on January 27, but that he told the president “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.”