While the statement says Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn as part of FBI probe into whether Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election, the president’s lawyer said he feels “vindicated” because it proved Trump’s claims he was never under investigation.
“The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russian probe,” Marc Kasowitz said.
“The President feels completely and totally vindicated,” the statement said.
The statement, which was posted on the Senate intelligence committee’s website, documents a dinner shared by Comey and the newly-inaugurated President Trump on January 27. During this meal, Comey writes that Trump first asked him whether he wanted to stay on as FBI director after the “abuse” he had taken during the campaign.
The former FBI head said he became concerned that Trump was trying to create “some sort of patronage relationship.”
After assuring the president he intended to serve his full 10-year term, Comey says he told Trump that he couldn’t take any sides politically.
After discussing the state of Comey’s job, the president reportedly tells him, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Comey says he then explained to Trump why the independence of the FBI and Department of Justice are necessary.
“I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because ‘problems’ come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work,” Comey said in his statement.
Further to a conversation between Trump and Comey on February 14 in the Oval Office, Trump reportedly told Comey he needed to speak with him. The statement claims that the president wanted to talk about Flynn.
Trump then asked Comey to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and delivered the following line: “I hope you can let this go.”
Comey, who Trump fired last month, is to deliver his testimony in person at a much-anticipated hearing at the intelligence committee on Thursday.
Probes of the Russia allegations have hung over Trump’s presidency since he took office and threaten to overwhelm his policy priorities, with several congressional committees conducting their own investigations of the alleged meddling by Moscow.
The Kremlin denies U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Trump’s favour, using means such as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. Trump has denied any collusion.
— With files from Global News’ Kevin Nielsen and Reuters