Comey to Congress: President Trump told him 'I need loyalty'

He plans to say that though he did assure Trump that he was not personally under investigation, he was taken aback by specific requests, including one from February in which he said the president encouraged him to bring to an end a probe into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, then under scrutiny for his Russian Federation contacts.

"My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position", Comey plans to say, "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 wrote that the FBI and Justice Department were reluctant to say publicly that Trump wasn't under investigation - despite Trump's requests to "lift the cloud" - "for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change".

Mr Comey also says he informed Mr Trump in early January that he was not personally under investigation in the bureau's Russian Federation counter-intelligence investigation.

Trump goes on to say that if anyone in his orbit did something wrong, "It would be good to find that out, but that he [Trump] hadn't done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him".

Comey, who Trump fired last month, is to deliver his testimony in person at a much-anticipated hearing at the intelligence committee on Thursday.

On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the president. I replied, "You will always get honesty from me".

"It is possible that we understood the phrase "honest loyalty" differently but I decided it wouldn't be productive to push it further".

"He 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", Mr Comey's prepared statement says.

"I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo".

"I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation", Trump wrote in the letter to Comey.

"He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go".

If you read the full statement - and you should, because it's fascinating - numerous anecdotes will seem familiar, because accounts related to Comey and Trump have been reported in the media in recent weeks and months.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump announced that he planned to nominate Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official, as Comey's successor.

"If we feel he crosses a line, we'll fire back", said Ed Rollins, chief strategist of Great America PAC, the political arm of the group airing the Comey ad.

Trump's White House and its allies are crafting a strategy aimed at undermining Comey's credibility. He said Sessions "doesn't believe it's appropriate to respond to media inquiries on matters that may be related to ongoing investigations".

It's unclear why Comey left the three phone calls out of his written testimony.

The person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the comment was made because of concerns Comey had about Trump. He claims, surprisingly, that he never took notes of meetings with President Barack Obama but took immediate and detailed notes of each of his conversations with Trump.

Mr Comey says that the decision to give Mr Trump that assurance came after consultation with top bureau officials.

  • Salvatore Jensen