Former FBI Director James Comey said during his Thursday morning testimony before the Senate intelligence committee that he believed that President Trump was “looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay on the job.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the committee, asked Comey about whether Trump had been holding Comey’s job as FBI director over his head. Warner also asked about the notion of the “patronage relationship” Comey said he thought Trump was trying to establish with him, according to the statement Comey released the day before.
“My common sense told me that … [Trump] had concluded or someone had told him, ‘You’ve already asked Comey to stay, and you didn’t get anything for it,’” Comey said, noting that Trump had asked him for loyalty.
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Comey added that he believes his one-on-one January dinner with the president was one of Trump’s efforts to “build a relationship” with him and that the president had asked him for loyalty, but noted that his impression of the president’s intentions was an “interpretation.”
The ex-FBI director also recalled that in an exchange with Trump in the Blue Room of the White House the Sunday after the inauguration, Trump had whispered in his ear, “I really look forward to working with you.” According to the ex-FBI chief, that exchange marked the third time the president had asked him about remaining in his position as FBI director.
Trump abruptly fired Comey last month, and the White House has offered shifting explanations for the termination. Trump reportedly told Russian diplomats that firing Comey had relieved pressure from the FBI’s investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
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