According to an advance copy of the opening statement to be offered by former FBI Director James Comey to Congress on Thursday, President Donald Trump asked him to "see your way clear to letting this go," with regard to the agency’s investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s alleged relations with Russian officials.
In the remarks posted online on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s website, Comey testified in his remarks, "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,'" Comey said in remarks posted on the website of the Senate intelligence committee. "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.'"
Comey's testimony was publicly released by the Intelligence Committee at his express request on Wednesday. He is scheduled to give his testimony before whole the committee Thursday. Comey claimed in the remarks that he spoke privately with Trump nine times -- including three one-on-one meetings -- and recorded notes for his declassified memos. Comey described a March 30 phone call in his written remarks in which he said that Trump stressed "the cloud" of the Russia investigations was "interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn't being investigated." Also available online is an Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian meddling in US elections.
Regarding why he did not make a public statement about whether or not Trump was under investigation, Comey wrote: "I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change."
Comey said Trump said during their first dinner in January, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty." Comey recalled, “I didn't move, speak or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed." Comey said he replied to Trump "you will always get honesty from me." The president replied, Comey said, "that's what I want. Honest loyalty."
Comey also wrote that Trump asked him on several occasions to publicly state that he was not under investigation. In his statement, Comey confirmed that he told Trump that he was not under investigation, as Trump asserted in his letter to Comey explaining his firing.
In a statement that was released subsequent to the release of Comey’s testimony, the Republican National Committee declared in an email, "According to former FBI Director James Comey's prepared testimony, he will confirm what Democrats and the media have been denying for weeks: That Comey did in fact tell the President three times that he was not under investigation."
In the written testimony, Comey said he assured President-elect Trump in a January 6 briefing at Trump Tower that he was not under investigation. During a January 27 dinner, Comey testified about Trump, "He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn't happen." Comey wrote, "I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren't, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it."
Before that meeting, he asked the FBI’s leadership team whether he should tell Trump that the agency was not investigating him. “That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted,” Comey said. “During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.”
And then in the March 30 phone call with Trump, Comey said that he told members of Congress that the FBI was not investigating Trump. In that call, Trump denied many of the allegations about his actions in Russia contained in a salacious dossier that was highly publicized last year.
"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," Comey wrote.
Comey opined in his written testimony that he thinks Trump’s request about retired general Flynn is "very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency." However, Comey decided to keep it "very closely held." Comey also wrote, "The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President's request, which we did not intend to abide." He continued, "We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account."
Emerging defense of Trump from GOP is basically that POTUS is too dumb/naive/or in over his head to have committed obstruction.— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 7, 2017