Comey Releases Opening Statement of Senate Testimony

James Comey
James Comey / Getty Images
• June 7, 2017 2:55 pm


Former FBI Director James Comey's expected opening statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee was released on Wednesday afternoon.

Comey is scheduled to testify on Thursday before the committee, marking the first time the public will hear from the former FBI director since President Donald Trump fired him on May 9. ABC reported that Comey would not accuse the president of obstruction of justice but would challenge the president's accounts of several of their meetings.

According to NBC, the testimony was released at Comey's request.

Comey outlined several meetings between him and Trump in his opening statement.

In a January 6 briefing, Comey assured Trump that he personally was not under investigation.

"In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally," Comey wrote. "That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. 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."

This appeared to confirm Trump's earlier assertions that Comey assured him that he wasn't under investigation.

Comey later detailed a January 27 dinner with Trump, where Trump asked him to pledge loyalty.

"And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not ‘reliable' in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth," Comey wrote. "I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President. A few moments later, the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.'"

Comey wouldn't offer Trump loyalty, citing that it would affect the independence of the FBI, but he did say he offered Trump "honest loyalty."

He then said, ‘I need loyalty.' I replied, ‘You will always get honesty from me.' He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty,'" Comey wrote. "I paused, and then said, ‘You will get that from me.' As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty' differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect."

Later on, Comey described a February 14 meeting with Trump, where Trump asked everyone to leave the room except for Comey. Trump then proceeded to talk about the investigation into his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and asked if Comey could let the investigation go:

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."

After the meeting, Comey informed FBI leadership about the conversation. He also asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to not allow him and Trump to meet alone anymore.

In March 30 and April 11 phone calls with Trump, Comey described the president as complaining that the "cloud" from the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference hampered his ability to do his job.

"He described the Russia investigation as "a cloud" that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country," Comey  wrote.

Comey informed Trump that the FBI was working as fast as possible to complete its investigation. Trump requested the FBI to publicly state that Trump wasn't under investigation. Comey was reluctant for the FBI to make public statements about ongoing investigations:

I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, "We need to get that fact out." (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.)

The April 11 phone call was the last time Comey spoke with Trump. Trump fired Comey on May 9.

UPDATE: 3:13 P.M.: This article was updated to include that the testimony was released at Comey's request.