President Trump’s lawyer denies Comey testimony

Former FBI director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)


WASHINGTON (WATE/AP) – The latest in Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Poll: Did the Comey Testimony change your opinion of President Trump?

2:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney says the president “never, in form or substance” directed former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating anyone. That includes former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Marc Kasowitz is responding to Comey’s Thursday morning testimony, in which the fired FBI director said Trump urged him to drop the Flynn case.

Kasowitz says that the president is “entitled to expect loyalty” from those serving the administration. But he says Trump never told Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” in form or substance, as Comey claimed.

Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.

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2:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s lawyer is accusing fired FBI Director James Comey of “unauthorized disclosures” of “privileged communications” he had with the president.

Marc Kasowitz said there continues “to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications.”

He says, “Comey has now admitted that he is one of the leakers.”

Comey said in his testimony that he leaked his memos of his conversations with the president to a friend after a tweet by the president suggested he may have taped the conversations.

Kasowitz says Trump’s team will “leave it the appropriate authorities” to determine whether the leak should be investigated.

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1:25 p.m.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee says there’s more work ahead in the committee’s investigation after hearing testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.

Sen. Richard Burr says the committee plans to get together next week with the special counsel who’s leading an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Burr says the aim is to work on ways to avoid logistical conflicts with upcoming witnesses and testimony.

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1:05 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says at the end of his testimony to a Senate committee that he believes he was fired by President Donald Trump in an effort to affect the Russia investigation.

Comey says it’s a “very big deal and not just because it involves me.”

He says political considerations shouldn’t influence the FBI’s work. Comey say that if any American helped Russia in trying to influence the 2016 election, “that is a very big deal.”

Comey says he’s confident an investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller will be conducted thoroughly.

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12:55 p.m.

James Comey has gone back in history to find an appropriate description for one of his interactions with President Donald Trump.

The reference to medieval times has arisen during the former FBI director’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence committee.

Comey is telling senators about one of his private meetings with Trump. Comey says the president said he hoped that Comey would back off investigating Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Comey says that reminded him of the phrase, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

It’s a reference to Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, who was killed in 1170. King Henry II was said to have said those words or something similar, which was taken by his men as an order to have Becket killed.

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12:50 p.m.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders is calling it just a “regular Thursday” at the White House — even with the dramatic testimony by former FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill.

Here’s what Sanders is telling reporters: “In terms of the mood in the White House, I would say that it’s a regular Thursday at the White House. We’re carrying on.”

She says staffers have their TVs turned to the news — as they do normally. Sanders says, “We’re carrying on, focused on the things that the president was elected to do.”

Sanders says Trump spent his morning mostly in meetings with officials — including the secretaries of state and defense, discussing North Korea, the Persian Gulf region and other matters.

She’s not sure whether the president saw most of Comey’s testimony.
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12:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he and his supporters “are under siege” but “will come out bigger and better and stronger than ever.”

Trump spoke Friday at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual conference at the same time as former FBI Director James Comey’s was testifying before Congress.

The president did not make specific reference to Comey, who says Trump tried to get him to pledge loyalty and drop an investigation into potential collusion with Russia by his campaign aides.

But in the first moments of Trump’s his speech he said “as you know, we’re under siege” and then vowed to survive and thrive.

12:40 p.m.

A White House spokeswoman says she doesn’t know if President Donald Trump is taping his Oval Office conversations, but will “try to look under the couch.”

Trump tweeted last month that fired FBI Director James Comey better hope there are no “tapes” of their conversations. Comey, testifying on Capitol Hill Thursday, said he indeed hoped tapes existed and called on the president to release them if they do.

The White House has refused to answer what the president was referring to in his tweet. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that she had “no idea” about Oval Office taping.
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12:30 p.m.

A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions — after days of refusing to answer the questions.

Sarah Sanders tells reporters the president “absolutely” has confidence in Sessions and the rest of his Cabinet.

Press secretary Sean Spicer had said earlier this week that he wasn’t sure about the president’s opinion on Sessions because he hadn’t discussed the topic with him.

Trump has been angry with Sessions ever since he recused himself from the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible connections with the Trump campaign.
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12:28 p.m.

A Columbia University law professor and close friend of former FBI director James Comey has confirmed he leaked contents of one of Comey’s memos to The New York Times.

Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday that he hoped the story about his interactions with President Donald Trump would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

Daniel Richman confirmed to The Associated Press in an email that he was the friend who Comey mentioned in his testimony. He declined further comment.

Richman served with Comey in the Southern District of New York and at the FBI.
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12:20 p.m.

A White House spokeswoman says President Donald Trump is “not a liar.”

Former FBI Director James Comey opened his Senate testimony by saying the administration had spread “lies, plain and simple” and “defamed” him and the agency.

The White House had claimed after Comey’s May 9 dismissal that he had lost the confidence of rank-and-file FBI agents.

Trump claimed separately in a television interview that the FBI was “in turmoil” and hadn’t recovered.

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed Comey’s testimony when asked about it during an off-camera briefing at the White House, saying “I can definitely say the president’s not a liar.”
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12:15 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey is steering clear of giving his opinion about whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he asked him to back off investigating ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Asked if the request rises to obstruction of justice, Comey told the Senate intelligence committee that he didn’t know and that it would be special counsel Robert Mueller’s job to sort that out.

Earlier in his testimony, Comey said he doesn’t think it would be fair for him to say whether the conversation he had with the president was an effort to obstruct the FBI probe into Russian activities during the election.

Comey said he found the president’s request “very disturbing.”
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12:05 p.m.

Ousted FBI Director James Comey says if President Donald Trump recorded their conversations, he hopes the president will “release all the tapes.”

Comey is being asked about the possibility that Trump may have recorded their conversations. The president alluded to that possibility in a tweet after he fired Comey in May.

Comey says in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony that he hopes there are tapes, adding the president should “release all the tapes.” He says he’s “good with it.”

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12:00 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says if FBI agents knew the president had asked him to drop an investigation into the former national security adviser, it would have a “real chilling effect” on their work.

Comey says he decided not to tell agents working on the Russia investigation about what he perceived to be a request from the president to drop the probe into Michael Flynn.

Comey says even as good as the agents are, hearing that the president asked for this could be detrimental. He says, “that’s why we kept it so tight.”

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11:59 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump is “learning as he goes” about government and probably did not fully understand the protocols that keep the FBI separate from the president.

Ryan was asked about ousted FBI Director James Comey’s account that Trump pushed him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey is testifying in the Senate that the request made him uncomfortable and spurred him to write detailed memos of his conversations with Trump.

Ryan said he had not been watching the hearings. But he said Ryan said the FBI needs to independent and “the president is new at this.”

He later added, “He’s learning as he goes.”

Ryan said Trump is probably frustrated that speculation has swirled around him even after being told by Comey three times that he was not directly under investigation.

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11:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz plans to make a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.

Kasowitz’s remarks are expected Thursday afternoon in downtown Washington.

Trump tasked Kasowitz late last month with responding to matters arising from various probes of Russian interference in the election.

This would be the first public appearance by Kasowitz.
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11:40 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he asked a friend to leak the contents of his memo about meetings with President Donald Trump.

Comey says in his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he felt that releasing the details of his private conversations with the president might prompt the appointment of a special counsel in the case.

The ousted FBI head says he made the decision after Trump tweeted that Comey should hope there aren’t any tapes.

Comey says the contents of the memo were released to a reporter by a close friend of his who is a professor at Columbia law school.

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11:24 a.m.

Ousted FBI Director James Comey says he knew of a “variety of reasons” why Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the Russia investigation would be problematic before Sessions recused himself in March.

But Comey said during his Senate testimony the reasons are such “that I can’t discuss in an open setting.”

He said career officials in the Justice Department had been urging Sessions to step aside from the probe. Sessions did so in March, after it was revealed that he twice spoke with the Russian ambassador during the campaign. Sessions failed to disclose those contacts when pressed by Congress during his confirmation hearing.

Comey said he doesn’t know if Comey thought Sessions had adhered to that recusal. He added that that depends on the real reason for Comey’s firing, which Sessions had recommended.
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11:15 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he didn’t announce that President Donald Trump was not personally under investigation because “it creates a duty to correct, which I’ve lived before.”

That’s a reference to the investigation into Hillary Clinton emails when Comey said late in the 2016 presidential campaign that the FBI was further investigating the case.

Comey is explaining in his Senate Intelligence Committee testimony why he was reluctant to announce that Trump was not under investigation.

He says he wrestled with the decision but said he didn’t want to say it publicly because it would create a “duty to correct, which I’ve lived before and you have to be really careful doing that.”

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11:12 a.m.

Fired FBI Director James Comey says, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” of his conversations with President Donald Trump.

Three days after Trump fired Comey, the president tweeted that Comey should hope there are “no tapes” of their conversations.

Comey documented his conversations with Trump in memos after the encounters. During his first public appearance since he was fired, senators asked Comey about his responses to Trump.

Comey says he chose his words carefully when responding to Trump because he was “so stunned” by the conversation. Comey was recalling a February conversation in which, Comey says, Trump said he hoped Comey could let go the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn’s calls with the Russians.
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11:06 a.m.

President Donald Trump has so far stayed off Twitter during former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony. But his eldest son hasn’t.

Donald Trump Jr. is posting repeatedly during the closely watched testimony Thursday.

He repeatedly defended his father and attacked Comey.

Trump Jr. in particular seized on Comey’s assertion that he interpreted the president’s statement that he “hoped” the FBI would drop its probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump Jr. tweeted “you would think a guy like Comey” would know the difference between “hoping and telling.”

He also cast doubt on all of Comey’s testimony and said he should “have actually followed procedure.”

Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric are now at the helm of their father’s New York-based business.
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11:00 a.m.

Former FBI director James Comey says he took “as a direction” President Donald Trump’s remark that he hoped Comey would drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho asked if Comey was aware of anyone being charged with obstruction of justice because they expressed hope for a certain outcome. Comey says he wasn’t.

But Comey added at his Senate hearing: “I took it as a direction,” and noted that the remark came during a one-on-one meeting with the president of the United States.

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10:50 a.m.

Former FBI director James Comey says he thought during a January dinner with President Donald Trump that the president was “looking to get something” in exchange for allowing him to stay on as FBI director.

Comey is describing his views that the president was trying to create a type of “patronage relationship” at the start of the Trump administration.

The ousted FBI head is testifying that the president told him before the dinner he hoped he would stay as director.

Comey says law enforcement leaders aren’t “supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is pleased or not with what you’re doing.”

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10:40 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says he was concerned Donald Trump would “lie” about the nature of his first conversation with him.

Comey says Trump’s behavior was new to him and led him to think, “I gotta write it down and I gotta write it down in a very detailed way.”

During the meeting, Trump asked if he personally was under investigation. Comey says he told him he was not at that time.

Trump fired Comey in May. At the time, Comey was leading an investigation into Russia’s election meddling and ties with the Trump campaign.

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10:35 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey says that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged him to refer to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”

Comey says in his Senate Intelligence Committee hearing that he was confused by the request and it was one of the reasons he felt the need to publicly announce his findings in the Clinton email case.

Comey says the other major factor was Lynch’s meeting with former President Bill Clinton on the tarmac of an Arizona airport. Comey says he had to announce his findings to protect the credibility of the FBI and the Justice Department.

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10:25 a.m.

James Comey says President Donald Trump’s administration spread “lies, plain and simple” and “defamed” him and the FBI.

The former FBI director opened his Senate testimony Thursday by stating that the administration’s explanations for his firing confused and concerned him. He didn’t say what the lies were.

The ousted FBI director says at the start of his high-profile Senate hearing that President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job. Comey says he told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.

Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

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10:20 a.m.

Former FBI director James Comey says that shifting explanations of his firing confused and concerned him.

The ousted FBI director says at the start of his high-profile Senate hearing that President Donald Trump had repeatedly told him he was doing a great job. Comey says he told the president he planned to serve out his full 10-year term.

Comey says he was “confused” by the explanation that his decisions during the 2016 election was the reason he was fired by Trump.

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10:18 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey has begun his much-anticipated congressional testimony under oath.

Comey is expected to recount a series of interactions with President Donald Trump in the weeks before his firing that he will say made him uncomfortable.

Those include a January dinner in which he says Trump asked him for his loyalty, and a White House conversation weeks later in which he says Trump asked him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Comey is testifying before the Senate intelligence committee. His remarks are his first public statements since his firing on May 9, which came as he was leading an FBI investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
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10:15 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner says President Donald Trump’s pressuring of former FBI Director James Comey and other government officials to downplay the Russia investigation is inappropriate.

Warner says it’s not “how a president of the United States behaves.”

Warner, of Virginia, is the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. The panel is hosting Comey for his first public account of his interactions with the president before he was dramatically fired.

In his prepared opening remarks, Comey describes a series of uncomfortable interactions with the president.

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10:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump will dispute key parts of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony.

That’s according to a person close to the president’s legal team.

The person says the president disputes Comey’s claim that he asked him for loyalty. Trump also disputes Comey’s account of a conversation about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.

The person demanded anonymity because the person is not authorized to be named in a discussion about legal strategy.

—Julie Bykowicz

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10:00 a.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey has arrived in a Senate hearing room where he will deliver long-awaited testimony about his dramatic firing.

Senators will ask Comey about his interactions with President Donald Trump before he was fired in May.

Comey says he had a series of uncomfortable conversations with Trump. He says Trump asked him for a pledge of loyalty and pushed him to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s ties with Moscow.

Comey’s remarks are his first since he was fired.

9:00 a.m.

Fired FBI Director James Comey will testify under oath Thursday that President Donald Trump repeatedly pressed him for his “loyalty” and directly pushed him to “lift the cloud” of investigation shadowing his White House by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties.

Comey’s detailed and vivid recollections of his one-on-one conversations with Trump were revealed in seven pages of prepared testimony released Wednesday, the day before his much-anticipated appearance before the Senate intelligence committee.

Related:

Read James Comey’s prepared testimony for Thursday’s hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee:

Statement for the Record Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017

Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.

January 6 Briefing

I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing, I remained alone with the President-Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.

The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.

The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.

It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves“turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.

Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counter-intelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.

In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance.

I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) –once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months – three in person and six on the phone.

January 27 Dinner

The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.

It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.

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.That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.

I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.

A few moments later, the President said, “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. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner.

At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. 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.

Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term – honest loyalty – had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.

During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.

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.

February 14 Oval Office Meeting

On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counter-terrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.

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.

When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.

The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information – a concern I shared and still share. 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.The door closed.

The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. 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.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”

The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.

I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. 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. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.

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.

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. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative teammembers – or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them – aware of the President’s request.

Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between thePresident and me. I told the AG that what had just happened – him being asked toleave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – wasinappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasonsdiscussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn.

March 30 Phone Call

On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to action behalf of the country. 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. He asked 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. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.

Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week – at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and theTrump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)

The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.

In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money. Although I didn’t understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.

He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could. 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.

April 11 Phone Call

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. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.

He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the WhiteHouse Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.

That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.

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