Former FBI Director James Comey will say in his congressional hearing opening statement that President Trump told him, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty," during a January dinner, according to documents released a day ahead of his planned testimony.
Comey is set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, and his prepared statement was released Wednesday afternoon. The former FBI director is expected to discuss the agency's investigation into the possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. He is also expected to describe his interactions with Trump from right before the president was inaugurated in January to the weeks leading up to Trump firing him in early May.
In the opening statement, Comey said he and Trump dined together privately in January. During the meal, he said Trump asked him if he wanted to remain on as FBI director, and he replied that he wanted to serve out his 10-year term and "was not on anybody's side politically."
Comey said Trump then made his statement about loyalty. Comey replied that he could offer his honesty, and that when Trump said he wanted "honest loyalty," Comey paused and said, "You will get that from me."
He also said it was "very concerning" when Trump asked him to back off an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Comey described the exchange in dramatic detail, saying Trump asked him to stay behind in the Oval Office after a meeting with a larger group, and as they stood near a grandfather clock, the president described Flynn as a good guy who'd been through a lot.
Then the president said to Comey, "I hope you can let this go." This corroborates a The New York Times report from May.
Comey also said in his statement that he immediately prepared a memo documenting the February exchange and that the FBI investigation continued.