Fired FBI Director James Comey said President Trump told him “I need loyalty” when the two had a private dinner at the White House in January. Comey also said he thought the encounter was designed to “create some part of patronage relationship.”
“The President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”’ Comey said in prepared remarks released Wednesday, one day before his highly anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee about President Trump’s efforts to squash an FBI investigation into the president’s Russian ties and tampering of the November elections.
“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,” Comey said.
Obstruction aside, it’s NEVER ok for a POTUS privately to ask an FBI Director to drop a criminal investigation. Extraordinary, wrong & dumb. https://t.co/Axwjoaw8F7
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) June 7, 2017
Comey will appear in an open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 10 a.m. and then a closed section at 2 p.m.
In his testimony, Comey describes in detail his interactions with the president before his May 9 firing by Trump.
Here’s a portion of Comey’s statement:
I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the PresidentElect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect.
Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.
Read his full prepared remarks here.