WASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) — Former FBI Director James Comey will say in public testimony Thursday that President Trump asked him to “lift the cloud” over him and the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, and asked for his loyalty.
- ALSO READ: Complete Text Of Comey’s Opening Statement
Comey will also testify that it was “very concerning” when President Donald Trump asked him to back off an investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey’s opening statement was released Wednesday ahead of an appearance Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
In the statement, Comey said Trump asked him to stay behind in the Oval Office after a meeting with a larger group, and as they stood near a grandfather clock, Trump told him, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.”
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” 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.”
Comey said that he immediately prepared a memo documenting the February exchange. And the investigation continued.
In the statement, Comey says he and Trump dined together privately in January. During the meal, he says Trump asked him if he wanted to remain on as FBI director. Comey says he replied that he wanted to serve out his ten-year term and “was not on anybody’s side politically.”
Comey says Trump then made his statement about loyalty.
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.
In another part of the testimony released Wednesday, Comey said Trump told him the Russia investigation was creating a “cloud” over his presidency, and that the president asked him what they could do to “lift the cloud.”
He finished by stressing “the cloud” that 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. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.
Trump abruptly fired Comey last month.
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