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Trump asked Comey to 'lift the cloud' over him on Russia

Trump asked Comey to 'lift the cloud' over him on Russia
© Greg Nash

President Trump wanted then-FBI Director James Comey to "lift the cloud" over his administration caused by the investigation into Russian election interference. 

Trump made the appeal in a previously unreported March 30 phone call to Comey that is documented in the former FBI director’s written testimony released by the Senate Intelligence Committee one day before his appearance before the panel.

During the phone call, Trump described the Russia investigation “as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country,” according to Comey’s written testimony. 

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Ten days prior, Comey had publicly disclosed to the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau was investigating Russian election interference efforts — including exploring any links or coordination between Trump campaign associates and Moscow.

Comey will deliver the testimony at a highly anticipated hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, his first public remarks since being fired by Trump in early May. 

During the March phone call, Trump “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,’” Comey will say, according to the prepared testimony.

“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,” Comey will say.

Comey also told Trump that he was not under investigation as part of the FBI’s counter-intelligence probe — prompting Trump to press Comey, saying, “We need to get that fact out,” according to the testimony. 

Neither the FBI nor the Department of Justice made public statements to that end. 

“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’s written testimony states. 

Trump fired Comey on May 9, which the White House initially described as the president acting on a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Since then, Trump has contradicted that explanation, saying that he would have removed Comey regardless of the recommendation and adding that the Russia investigation figured into his decision. 

The developments, along with media leaks about Comey’s conversations with Trump, have yielded charges about possible obstruction of justice.

Trump later alleged that Comey told him he was not under investigation.

Comey is expected to face questions about the circumstances of his firing on Thursday.