WASHINGTON — The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, plans to testify on Thursday that President Trump repeatedly pressured him to publicly announce that he was not personally under federal investigation in connection with the Justice Department inquiry into Russian meddling in last year’s election.
Mr. Comey will say that he told Mr. Trump on at least one occasion in January that he was not under investigation at that time. Mr. Comey has said that investigators are looking into possible links between associates of Mr. Trump and the Russian election interference.
Mr. Trump, in a previously undisclosed phone call on March 30, also asked Mr. Comey what could be done to “lift the cloud” over Mr. Trump from the investigation, according to remarks written by Mr. Comey and published Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, before which he will appear. During the call, the president told Mr. Comey that the Russia investigation was hurting his ability to govern.
“I did not tell the president that the F.B.I. 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,” Mr. Comey said in the prepared testimony.
It was unclear why the committee released the testimony before the highly anticipated appearance by Mr. Comey, who was abruptly fired last month by Mr. Trump.Continue reading the main story
ADVERTISEMENTContinue reading the main story
Mr. Comey wrote a series of memos documenting his interactions with the president, some of which have been described to The New York Times by people who have read them. In one, he told of Mr. Trump asking him to end the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.
Mr. Comey will tell senators that he wrote his first memo shortly after he first met Mr. Trump on Jan. 6, during the presidential transition. In that meeting, Mr. Comey briefed the president-elect on the contents of a dossier of salacious allegations that a former British spy believed the Russian government had collected on Mr. Trump.
“To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an F.B.I. vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting,” Mr. Comey said. “Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward.”
Mr. Comey, who was confirmed in 2013, said that he had not written similar memos for his interactions with President Barack Obama, whom he met privately with twice when he was in office.
Mr. Comey said the last time he had spoken with Mr. Trump was on April 11. Mr. Trump called to ask again when Mr. Comey planned to put out word that Mr. Trump was not under investigation.
Mr. Comey responded that he had passed the request on to his bosses at the Justice Department but had not heard back.
“He replied that ‘the cloud’ was getting in the way of his ability to do his job,” Mr. Comey wrote in his written testimony.
The president emphasized that he had been loyal to Mr. Comey.
“Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing, you know,” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Comey, who wrote that he had not replied or asked Mr. Trump what he meant by “that thing.”
“That was the last time I spoke with President Trump,” Mr. Comey said.