WASHINGTON—Former FBI director James Comey accused President Donald Trump on Wednesday of allegdly asking him to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn as part of a probe into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
In dramatic written testimony, Comey claimed Trump told him at a meeting in the White House in February, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
Trump fired Flynn in February in a controversy over contacts between the retired general and the Russian ambassador to the United States. The FBI has been investigating Flynn as it looks into allegations of links between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Comey’s statement, posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s website, said Trump also called him on March 30 to say he had nothing to do with Russia and asked what “we could do to lift the cloud” of the FBI’s Russia investigation.
During that phone call, Comey said he told Trump the FBI was not investigating the president personally. “He repeatedly told me, ‘We need to get that fact out’,” Comey said.
Comey said he had told Trump on three occasions he was not being investigated, confirming an earlier account from the president.
Several congressional committees, as well as the FBI and a special counsel, are looking into reports that Russia reportedly tried to tilt the election in Trump’s favor, using means such as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. Trump and the Kremlin have separately denied any collusion.
Comey claimed Trump told him at a one-on-one dinner on Jan. 27, a week after the president took office, that: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.”
Comey is to deliver his testimony in person at a much-anticipated hearing by the intelligence committee on Thursday.
During the dinner, the president asked him if he wanted to stay on as FBI director, Comey said. The former FBI head said he became concerned that Trump was trying to create “some sort of patronage relationship.”
After a Feb. 14 meeting on counter-terrorism in the Oval Office, Trump dismissed all the participants except Comey, according to the testimony.
The president then initiated a conversation about Flynn.
Comey quoted Trump as telling him: “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.”