Former FBI Director James Comey's opening remarks to the Senate Intelligence Committee were released Wednesday, one day ahead of his scheduled hearing. In the remarks, Comey revealed Trump requested his "loyalty" on multiple occasions. Trump, according to the remarks, also told Comey he hoped he could let go of the controversy surrounding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
"A few moments later, the President said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,'" Comey said of a one-on-one Jan. 27 dinner in the White House’s Green Room, during which Trump asked him if he wanted to stay on as head of the FBI. "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."
Comey's last contact with Trump, according to the prepared statement, occurred on the morning of April 11:
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.
He said he would do that and added, "Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know." I did not reply or ask him what he meant by "that thing." I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
Comey also clarified that his practice of keeping written records of one-on-one conversations with Trump was not the norm. "This had not been my practice in the past," Comey said. "I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions." In just four months, Trump and Comey had nine one-on-one conversations, including six over the phone.
Read Comey's statement in full here.
Following the release of Comey's statement, the debate surrounding whether Trump committed obstruction of justice continued:
In his Guardian piece, published Wednesday, Tom McCarthy said the "flavor" of Trump's conversations will be significant in establishing obstruction.