The 3 things Comey’s advance testimony corroborates from press reports, Trump
Fired FBI Director James Comey corroborated several anonymous accounts published in media reports, as well as a claim by President Donald Trump, in congressional testimony he is expected to deliver at a June 8 hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
An advanced copy of his prepared remarks shows Comey weighing in on controversial issues like Trump’s request that Comey pledge his loyalty and drop an FBI investigation into a fired national security adviser. Comey repeated many details that to date have been substantiated only by anonymous leaks to media outlets.
The following are several facts that Comey’s testimony puts on more solid ground:
Comey’s remarks considerably fleshed out a New York Times report that cited Comey associates saying Trump asked the FBI director to pledge his loyalty to Trump during a private dinner in January.
Comey is expected to testify that he and Trump had a one-on-one dinner Jan. 27 in the Green Room of the White House, where Trump turned the conversation to whether Comey wanted to stay on as FBI director. Given that Trump had previously told him on two occasions he’d like Comey to remain in that capacity, Comey suspected Trump was seeking a "patronage relationship."
"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 prepared remarks read. "That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch."
Comey is also expected to tell Congress that Trump explicitly requested his loyalty later that evening, saying, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty." Comey claims an awkward silence ensued, during which he gave no indication he’d comply with Trump’s request.
Comey goes on to corroborate reporting in the May 11 New York Times story that Comey told Trump: "You will always get honesty from me." Comey states that he recorded his recollections in a memo made immediately after the dinner.
Comey also corroborated a New York Times report that Trump asked Comey in a Feb. 14 meeting to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. Flynn was the national security adviser whose resignation came after only 24 days on the job, after he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about conversations he’d had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
The testimony backs up the May 16 reporting that Trump spoke alone with Comey in the Oval Office about the investigation into possible Flynn wrongdoing.
Comey claims Trump said of Flynn, "He is a good guy and has been through a lot," before asking Comey to ease off the investigation.
"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 claims Trump told him.
Comey’s testimony also backs up the New York Times reporting that he recorded his impression of the conversation in a memorandum made immediately afterward.
Comey agreed with a claim Trump made the day he fired Comey as FBI director. In a letter Trump wrote to inform him of his removal, Trump claimed Comey assured the president three times that he was not personally under FBI investigation.
"I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation," Trump wrote in the letter to Comey. "I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."
Comey’s prepared remarks bolster Trump’s claim. He says he assured Trump three different times, the first instance coming in a January 6 meeting a Trump Tower.
"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," Comey wrote in his prepared remarks. Subsequent assurance came during phone calls on March 30 and April 11.
Comey made clear in his remarks that he assured Trump he was not personally the subject of a counterintelligence investigation, which is separate and distinct from an FBI criminal investigation.
Comey wrote that the FBI and Justice Department were reluctant to say publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation — despite Trump’s requests to "lift the cloud" — "for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change."