FBI Director James Comey has just finished delivering his opening statement in a Congressional testimony.
Comey did not read the prepared statement that was released on Wednesday. Instead, he delivered separate remarks in which he said that the explanations for his firing were confusing and concerning and that the Trump administration lied about him losing the faith of those at the FBI.
“Those were lies plain and simply,” Comey said. “I’m so sorry the FBI workforce had to hear them.”
Comey also thanked those who he worked for at the FBI, saying that he is sorry he did not get to properly say goodbye.
Comey released a separate statement on Wednesday afternoon. The former FBI director in that statement goes into detail about three meetings he had with Donald Trump, with Comey saying that at a dinner in January, Trump asked for his loyalty.
…[T]he President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,’” Comey said. “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.”
Comey says that he promised Trump he would always get “honesty” from him, to which Trump replied, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” Comey also goes into detail about a February 14th meeting at the White House, during which Comey says Trump asked him to let the Michael Flynn investigation go.
“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,’” Comey said. “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.’”
James Comey makes clear in his prepared remarks that he was made extremely uncomfortable by these meetings with Trump, as he found it highly unusual and inappropriate for the president to be meeting with the director of the FBI and asking him to shut down an ongoing investigation. For this reason, Comey says that he kept detailed notes of all of his meetings with Trump, a habit he got into after a conversation at Trump Tower in January.
“I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo,” Comey said. “To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward.”
Upon firing James Comey, Donald Trump claimed that Comey had informed him three separate times that he is not under FBI investigation. Comey’s testimony confirms this, as Comey says he told Trump several times that the FBI was not looking into him personally. Comey also says, though, that Trump pressured him to make this clear to the media, something Comey did not do.
“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 said.
At two separate points during the written statement, Comey made reference to the unsubstantiated dossier leaked to BuzzFeed in January, which claimed that Donald Trump hired prostitutes to pee on a bed in Russia and that the Russian government has a tape of this that they planned to use to blackmail Trump. Comey says that Trump brought this up a number of times, denying the allegations and saying he was considering ordering the FBI to specifically disprove this.
“He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen,” Comey said. “I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.”