Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that President Trump did ask him for "loyalty" at a January dinner and later told him alone in the Oval Office that he "hope[d] you can let" the investigation into his former national security director Michael Flynn "go." The opening statement from Comey, released by the committee less than 24 hours before his testimony, effectively confirms many of the bombshell reports from the New York Times and the Washington Post over the past month that have raised the question of whether the president tried to interfere in the ongoing investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and whether or not Trump campaign associates colluded with the country.
Comey was fired by Trump last month, and the president later conceded the Russia investigation factored into his decision. Comey will testify that in March, Trump called him and asked what the FBI could do to "lift the cloud" around him and his administration involving Russia.
Comey says he had "nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone," and that he wrote memos after each of those encounters, some of which he shared with top FBI officials. In comparison, he spoke alone with President Obama only twice in two years, and never on the phone.
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