Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington
- Trump suggests the special counsel and his Russia probe team are conflicted by their Comey and Clinton ties
- President signs bill to ease discipline and firing of Veterans Affairs Department employees
- Mexico objects to Trump's inaccurate tweet that it is the world's "second deadliest country"
- With the release ofSenate Republicans' healthcare bill, party leaders struggle to line up support
President Trump demanded "loyalty" from former FBI Director James B. Comey and asked him to drop at least part of the bureau's investigation of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn, Comey plans to testify to Congress Thursday.
In a prepared statement posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee website, Comey says that in a private dinner with Trump on Jan. 27, the president asked him if he wanted to remain as head of the FBI and told him “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. We simply looked at each other in silence," Comey says. He told Trump that he could promise "honesty," he says.
When Trump responded "honest loyalty," Comey said "you will get that from me." The two men may have "understood the phrase 'honest loyalty' differently," he said.
The testimony, largely confirms media reports about the content of memos that Comey wrote after his meetings with Trump.
But going beyond those previous accounts, the testimony, describing nine one-on-one conversations between Comey and Trump paints a picture of a president intensely focused on having the FBI publicly say that he, personally, was not under investigation.
According to the testimony, Comey several times told Trump that he was not personally being investigated. But, he adds, he was reluctant to say so publicly because that would "create a duty to correct should that change."
Just over two weeks after their dinner, Comey says, he had a second meeting with Trump in the Oval Office. After telling Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and several top White House officials to leave the office so that the two could talk privately, Trump told him that Flynn, who he had fired the day before "is a good guy and has been through a lot.”
Flynn had not done anything wrong in his conversations with Russian officials, Trump told Comey, according to the testimony.
"He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,'" Comey recounted.
"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. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign," the testimony says.
In a subsequent telephone call, on March 30, Comey says, Trump told him that the investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election was "'a cloud' that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country."
Trump 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," Comey recalled.
The references to prostitutes refer to a dossier which circulated in Washington late last year containing accounts of purported Russian intelligence material about Trump. The contents of the dossier have never been confirmed and are not believed to be the center of the FBI's investigation, but were clearly on Trump's mind in several conversations with Comey, the testimony indicates.
In that conversation, Trump asked Comey "what we could do to 'lift the cloud.'"
"I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well."
Trump "agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him," Comey said.
Comey says that after consulting with top FBI officials, he decided not to tell anyone at the Justice Department about Trump's requests.
Trump fired Comey last month, revealing later that "this Russia thing" had been on his mind when he did so.
Trump also derided the FBI director as “crazy, a nut job” to Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador during a private meeting in the Oval Office, according to published reports that cited a leaked White House transcript. The White House has not denied that Trump made the comment.
The Justice Department has appointed a special counsel, Robert Mueller III, to oversee the widening investigation into whether associates of Trump or campaign officials coordinated with Russia. .
Trump and his aides have denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the leaks of classified material to the media have posed a greater threat to national security than Russian meddling in the election.