Ousted FBI Director James Comey plans to go into extensive detail during his Senate hearing testimony Thursday about his often uncomfortable relationship with President Donald Trump, according to a copy of his opening statement released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Comey’s lengthy statement appears to confirm Trump’s oft-repeated claim that he was not personally under investigation by the FBI or the Justice Department. Comey told Trump on three occasions — a Jan. 6 briefing, a Jan. 27 dinner, and a March 30 phone call — that he was not personally being investigated.
The testimony corroborates Trump’s assertion in his May 10 letter firing Comey that the ex-FBI director privately acknowledged “on three separate occasions” that the president was not under investigation.
During the March 30 phone call, Comey explained in his statement, he told the president he had informed congressional leaders that his agency was “not personally investigating President Trump.”
The former FBI chief went on to say that Trump repeatedly told him: “We need to get that fact out.” The president was insistent that the “cloud” of the Russia investigation was hampering his ability to govern effectively, 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 explained.
Two weeks later, Trump called Comey again on April 11, following up on his request for Comey to “get out” that the president was not personally under investigation. Comey did not have an update on the issue, but instead, suggested the White House reach out to the Justice Department to address the matter.
The fired FBI director’s failure to publicly announce that Trump was not under investigation seemed to frustrate the commander in chief, who on multiple occasions — according to Comey — requested “loyalty.”
“[Trump] said he would do that and added, ‘Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know,’” Comey recalled. “I did not reply or ask him what he meant by ‘that thing.’”
Comey’s statement also sheds light on how the president handled the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned on Feb. 13 following reports that he had not been truthful about his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
In an Oval Office meeting the next day, Comey said Trump pressed him to “let go” of the FBI’s investigation into Flynn. According to Comey, Trump said Flynn “hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled” Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with the Russians.
“[Trump] 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 wrote. “I replied only that ‘he is a good guy.’ ... I did not say I would ‘let this go.’”
Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee is slated to begin at 10 a.m. ET Thursday.
You can read Comey’s full statement below:
The release of Comey’s opening statement comes hours after Trump announced his nomination of Christopher Wray for FBI director.