(Reuters) - Former FBI Director James Comey detailed his private conversations with President Donald Trump in written testimony submitted to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and made public on Wednesday, one day before Comey is scheduled to testify in person.
Comey was leading a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election when Trump fired him last month.
Comey said he had a total of three face-to-face meetings with Trump and six phone calls with him. Following are details of what Comey said occurred in some of the conversations.
Briefing at Trump Tower in New York, when Trump was president-elect.
At conclusion of a briefing given with other intelligence community officials, Comey remained alone with Trump to provide a private briefing on material that was “salacious and unverified.”
Comey said he was prepared to tell Trump the FBI was not investigating him personally, because the agency did not “have an open counter-intelligence case on him.”
“I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-elect,” Comey said, saying he began to “type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting.”
“Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward,” Comey said.
Dinner at the White House
Comey had dinner with Trump in the Green Room at the White House. Trump called him earlier in the day to extend the invitation and Comey had assumed that other people would be present, but it was just him and the president.
Trump asked Comey if he wanted to remain FBI director, which Comey said he “found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him I intended to.”
“My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship.” Comey said.
“Because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not ‘reliable’ in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth,” Comey said.
“A few moments later, the President said, ‘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.”
Trump returned to the subject of Comey’s job near the end of the dinner, and said: “I need loyalty.” Comey said he replied: ”You will always get honesty from me.”
Trump paused and said: “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” Comey said he paused, and said: “You will get that from me,” although Comey said it was possible he and Trump “understood the phrase ‘honest loyalty’ differently.”
Oval Office meeting
Comey went to the Oval Office for a counterterrorism briefing with other officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions. At the end of the briefing, Trump indicated he wanted to speak to Comey alone, and when Sessions lingered, Trump said he wanted to speak only to Comey.
Once alone, Trump began by saying: ”I want to talk about Mike Flynn,“ who had been fired as national security adviser the previous day. Trump said of Flynn: ”He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey said he replied only that “he is a good guy,” and said that “I did not say I would ‘let this go.'”
Comey discussed the conversation with the FBI leadership team and it was agreed not to report the conversation to the attorney general.
But shortly afterward, Comey said he spoke in person to Sessions to pass along Trump’s concerns about leaks. “I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened – him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply.”
Trump called Comey at the FBI. “He described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country,” and asked what could be done to “lift the cloud.”
Trump wanted to know why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the prior week. Comey said the FBI had briefed congressional leaders on which individuals it was investigating and said Trump was not being personally investigated. Comey said he reminded Trump that he had previously told him that. Trump, he said, “repeatedly told me, ‘We need to get that fact out.'”
Trump called Comey and asked what he “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.”
Trump again said “the cloud” was interfering with his ability to do his job.
At the end of his conversation, Trump said: ”‘Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know,'“ Comey reported, adding: ”I did not reply or ask him what he meant by ‘that thing.'”
Comey said that was his last conversation with Trump.
Compiled by Leslie Adler; Editing by Peter Cooney