Trump demanded loyalty, asked for Flynn probe to be dropped - Comey

  • 08/06/2017

Former FBI director James Comey, in a written statement posted online, says President Donald Trump asked him to back off from a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and told Mr Comey: "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty."

Mr Comey, who will testify in person to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday (US time), will use his opening statement to recount a dinner he had with Mr Trump on January 27, a week after the President took office, according to a copy of the statement posted on the Senate panel's website on Wednesday.

Mr Comey said that during the dinner Mr Trump asked him if he wanted to stay on as Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Mr Comey said he became concerned that Mr Trump was trying to create "some sort of patronage relationship".

In the statement Mr Comey added: "That concerned me greatly, given the FBI's traditionally independent status in the executive branch."

As for Mr Flynn, Mr Comey said the President told him: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy."

Mr Comey says he agreed with Mr Trump that Mr Flynn was a "good guy", but did not tell him he would let it go.

"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… It was very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency."

In a later conversation between the pair, Mr Trump allegedly told Mr Comey he "had not been involved with hookers in Russia", and wanted to "lift the cloud" surrounding his presidency.

The last time they spoke was on April 11, when Mr Trump told Mr Comey he had been loyal to the FBI director because of "that thing". Mr Comey says he doesn't know what "that thing" referred to.

Probes of the Russia allegations have hung over Mr Trump's presidency since he took office and threaten to overwhelm his policy priorities, with several congressional committees conducting their own investigations of the alleged meddling by Moscow.

The Kremlin denies US intelligence agencies' conclusion that Moscow tried to tilt the election campaign in Mr Trump's favour, using means such as hacking into the emails of senior Democrats. Mr Trump has denied any collusion.

Reuters / Newshub.