Tomorrow, former FBI Director James Comey will speak. But his prepared remarks for tomorrow are already saying volumes.
The Senate intelligence committee released the remarks. In them, Comey confirms that he told Trump he was not under FBI investigation multiple times. Just as Trump has said.
Comey said he told the president on January 6 and on March 30 that he was not under investigation.
They also show that Trump had never pressured Comey to drop the FBI’s investigation of whether there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia.
In fact, according to Comey, Trump had said it would be “good” to find out of there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong.
Comey also clarifies conversations “associates” of his had with the media. He clarified details and provided more context.
In a May 11th New York Times report, Trump had told Comey he “needed his loyalty.”
That headline read: “In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.”
However, Comey said Trump never asked him to pledge his loyalty, and Comey never refused, contrary to what the Times reported.
According to the account, Trump had said, “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” Comey did not respond.
Later in the conversation, he said Trump again said, “I need loyalty,” and he responded, “You will always get honesty from me.” Trump said “That’s what I want, honest loyalty,” to which Comey said, “You will get that from me.”
Comey did say he wasn’t sure what the president meant and he did not ask.
As the Times also noted in the report, “Throughout his career, Mr. Trump has made loyalty from the people who work for him a key priority, often discharging employees he considers insufficiently reliable.”
Comey also provided more context to a reported conversation he had with Trump on February 14, in which the president reportedly asked him to drop the FBI investigation on his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom he had dismissed the day before.
The Washington Post ran an article on May 16 that was headlined, “Notes made by FBI Director Comey say Trump pressured him to end Flynn probe.” However, Comey’s account makes it far from clear that he was ever “pressured.”
Comey said the president 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 the president then turned to the subject of leaks.
Comey did not say whether he responded to the president’s comment, which he characterized as a “request.”
A White House statement at the time said, “the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end an investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.”
Comey clarified that he understood the president’s comment as a request for any investigation on Flynn be dropped, but not “the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.”
He also addressed why he didn’t tell anyone outside of senior FBI leadership about the President’s comment. He did not pass the info on to others in the FBI because he didn’t want to “infect” the investigation team. He also did not intend to abide by the request.
He did not tell Attorney General Jeff Sessions because Sessions was expected to rescue himself from the investigation.
“After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed,” he said.
The investigation “moved ahead at full speed.”
On March 30th, Trump called Comey and explained the Russia investigation was like “a cloud” impairing his ability to better serve the county. He asked how the FBI could help to “lift the cloud.”
Comey reassured the President the FBI was investigating the matter as quickly as possible and that Trump himself was not under investigation.
Trump repeatedly told him, “We need to get that fact out.”
The FBI and Justice Department were reluctant to do that because it could create a duty to correct the record if things changed.
“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.”
So, what do you think?
It’s a lot to take in, but it stands with Trump’s word.