Comey details Trump meetings in opening statement

Former FBI Director James Comey provides a dramatic and detailed account of his meetings with President Trump in an opening statement released the afternoon before his highly anticipated testimony to Congress on Thursday. 

In a statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which runs seven pages, Comey confirms reports that Trump asked him to "let go" of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey also recounts multiple conversations with Trump in the statement, including one talk in which the president asked him to "lift the cloud" of the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the election and alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

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In another conversation, which took place during a January dinner at the White House, Comey confirms that the president asked him for his loyalty. 

"I need loyalty. I expect loyalty," Trump said, according to Comey.

Comey said he didn't respond to Trump's remark, but the president returned to the subject later in the dinner, again repeating that he needed loyalty. 

Ultimately, Comey allowed that Trump would get "honesty loyalty" from him.

"The term — honesty loyalty — had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect," Comey says in his testimony.

Comey reveals one previously unreported incident that took place on the morning of March 30, 10 days after Comey publicly confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. 
 
The president called Comey at the FBI, according to the testimony. Describing the Russia investigation as “a cloud," he asked the director what could be done 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," Comey wrote. "He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him."
 
Comey also confirmed Trump's claim that, when asked by the president, he assured him personally he was not under investigation.

In a discussion following Comey's March 20 disclosure of the existence of the investigation, Comey will testify, he told the president that he had informed congressional leadership on which individuals were currently under investigation. The president made repeated requests that Comey publicly counter the narrative that he himself was under personal investigation, according to the dismissed director.

"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 in the statement.

In his final interaction with the president, on April 11, the president called on Comey to follow up on that request.

"Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know," Comey reported the president saying.

"I did not reply or ask him what he meant by 'that thing,'" Comey wrote.
 
Comey will also testify that the president told him that he was considering ordering the then-director to investigate allegations contained in an unverified dossier believed to be drawn to some extent from unverified and likely erroneous information circulated by Russian intelligence.
 
The president reportedly told Comey that he had not been involved with prostitutes in Russia, which is one of the claims contained in the dossier.
 
Comey told the president 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."