Five Takeaways from Comey’s Testimony
June 7, 2017
1. Comey will confirm under oath that Trump lied and that he did ask him to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn.
COMEY: “The President… then said, ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go’ … I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December.”
2. Trump really, really didn’t want anybody else in the room with him when he asked Comey to drop the Flynn investigation. FOUR times, Trump told his senior advisors to leave him and Comey alone.
COMEY: “The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone.
“I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me…
“After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly.”
3. Trump didn’t just ask Comey for his loyalty, he made clear that it was a requirement for Comey to keep his job.
COMEY: “The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away. 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…A few moments later, the President said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’”
“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.”
4. Comey didn’t just write contemporaneous memos about his interactions with Trump, he informed FBI senior leadership and some DOJ officials about them in real time.
COMEY: “As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.”
“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership.”
“Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.”
5. Comey provided a reasonable explanation for why he didn’t inform superiors at the DOJ about Trump’s request to drop the Flynn probe, and he made it in consultation with other senior leaders at the FBI.
COMEY: “I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership…The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General’s role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. 6 After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed.”