TV outlets erupted Wednesday afternoon when former FBI Director James Comey released the text of what will be his opening statement to the House Intel Committee on Thursday. It’s a real page turner, and you can read it in its entirety here.
Among revelations, Comey will say Trump called to invite him to their first dinner. Trump in May told NBC’s Lester Holt that Comey asked him for the dinner because Comey wanted to keep his job. In his remarks, Comey will say Trump began the dinner by asking him whether he wanted to stay on as FBI director. Comey will say the one-on-one setting and pretense that this was their first discussion about his post meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have him ask for his job and create some sort of patronage relationship, which Comey found concerning.
During the dinner, Trump told him “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.”
When Trump reiterated his expecting-loyalty remark later, Comey will say, “I replied, ‘You will always get honesty from me’,” to which Trump responded, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.”
“I paused and then said, ‘You will get that from me.’” In his opening remarks, Comey will say it is possible the two men understood that phrase differently but he “decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further” because it “helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.”
Comey says in his remarks that, as was his practice for conversations with Trump, he wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately after and shared it with senior leadership at FBI.
Comey also will talk about a March 30 phone call in which Trump called him 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.”