Former FBI director James Comey prepared a statement for his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, and here are the highlights. Mr. Comey was cleared to testify by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, another former FBI director now overseeing the investigation into all things Russia.
On the President Demanding Loyalty Pledge
Several reports have claimed President Donald J. Trump asked for a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey, which he will support with his testimony. Recounting a dinner he had with the President on January 27, 2017, he will say the following:
Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. 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.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.”
Strangely, Mr. Comey told President Trump he would give him “honest loyalty,” which he attempts to explain further. His statement claimed “it is possible we understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further.”
On Michael Flynn, Obstruction of Russia Probe
The New York Times first reported on a memo documenting a meeting with President Trump and Mr. Comey, in which he allegedly asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But the Times quoted the memo as saying he “hoped” Lt. Gen. Flynn wasn’t prosecuted because he was a “good man,” to which Comey replied he agreed he was a good man.
As it turns out, while Mr. Comey will say he “understood” that comment to be a request, he will also say that he did not believe President Trump was talking about the investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. Instead, he thought the comment was in reference to “false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,” which led to President Trump firing him.
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.”
Mr. Comey stopped short of characterizing President Trump’s comments as obstruction of justice, something legal experts on both sides have mocked. If at the time he construed the comment to be obstruction of justice, he was legally required under 18 USC 4 and 28 USC 1361 to report it. He did not.
Worth noting, Acting-Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, DNI chief Dan Coats, and NSA Director Mike Rogers all testified Wednesday before the same committee that President Trump (nor anyone at the White House) attempted to obstruct justice, pressure them or ask them to make false statements.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said while he likes Mr. Comey, he believes he is just “probably upset” about getting firing by President Trump.
On Whether President Trump is Investigation
As People’s Pundit Daily has repeatedly report, the former FBI director did in fact tell the President he was not under investigation nor the target of an investigation. Mr. Comey will confirm he did give those assurances on at least one occasion.
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. 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.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also called on the FBI to end the “wild speculation” surrounding President Trump and criminal investigations. In public statements and tweets, Sen. Grassley repeatedly insinuated Mr. Comey also told him that the president was not the target of any FBI probe.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, backed the chairman up and has repeatedly stated that she has not seen any evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign or President Trump with Russia.