Former FBI Director James Comey released his prepared testimony Wednesday, the day before he is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. According to his prepared document (embedded below), President Trump did not pressure him to stop the Russian investigation, nor did he pressure him about Gen. Flynn (although he did ask him about Flynn). Additionally, Trump was accurate when he said that Comey had assured him that he was not personally under investigation.
Among the issues issues addressed by Comey:
- First time Telling Trump he wasn’t under investigation: His first meeting with Trump was on January 6th at Trump Tower. After a meeting with the entire intelligence community, Comey stayed after everyone left to warn the President-elect about the salacious Trump Dossier, a bogus document that supposedly revealed Trump’s activities with prostitues in Russia 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… 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.
- Asked for loyalty. The two had dinner on Friday, January 27 in the Green Room at the White House. “The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to.” Comey went on to say he thought the reason for the meal was an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.” I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten- year term as Director. 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. 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.” 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. 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.”
- There was no obstruction of justice (Comey doesn’t say it but he sure strongly implies it) On February 14 after he had a counter-terrorism briefing in the Oval Office trump asked for everyone but Comey to leave. “When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn.’ Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.” The two spoke about the problem of leaks of classified info. “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…..I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.”
- Trump asks if Comey could tell people that he is not under investigation (since Comey told him he wasn’t) . On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him. (…)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.” The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him. (…) He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. 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.
- Trump asks if Comey could tell people that he is not under investigation On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel. That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
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Below is the entire Comey document, the bottom line is that Donald Trump did nothing illegal. He knew that he was not under investigation and only asked that the FBI director make it public. The day after Flynn was fired the President asked Comey to throw him a break…it was not a demand, and while it may have been out-of-line at no point did Trump ask him to stop the Russian investigation. And Trump did request loyalty, he seemed to accept Comey’s answer which was a promise of honesty.
In the end the Democrats will be very disappointed because Comey’s statement described a president who did nothing wrong.