By Ryan Teague Beckwith
June 8, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee today in one of the most highly anticipated moments in Donald Trump’s presidency. As the hearing progresses, this article will be updated with the transcript along with tweets, links and video clips for context. The initial transcript is based on closed-captioning data and subject to some error, and will be replaced by the official transcript when it becomes available.

Speakers include Comey, committee chairman Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina; ranking Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia; Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Susan Collins, Roy Blunt, James Lankford, Tom Cotton and John Cornyn; Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Martin Heinrich, Joe Manchin and Kamala Harris; and independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats.

Related content from TIME: James Comey Says President Trump Told Him: ‘I Need Loyalty. I Expect Loyalty’

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director Comey, I appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today. And more importantly for thank you for your dedicated service and leadership to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years, and I’m looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. I’d like to remind my colleagues, that we will reconvene in closed session at 1:00 P.M. Today. And I ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. The director has been very gracious with his time, but the vice chairman and I have worked out a very specific timeline for his commitment to be on the Hill. We’ll do everything we can to meet that agreement. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the United States Senate and the American people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission, and keep America safe. Part of our mission beyond the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities, is to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The committee’s work continues. This hearing represents part of that effort. Allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks. And today is your opportunity to set the record straight. Yesterday, I read with interest your statement for the record. And I think it provides some helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions. Actions you took following each conversation. And your state of mind. I very much appreciate your candor, I think it’s helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president from your vantage point and outlined a strained relationship. The American people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the President’s descriptions of events. These interactions also highlight the importance of the committee’s ongoing investigation. Our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country’s possession. We will establish the facts, separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the american people to make their own judgment. Only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. There are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that I hope you’ll clear up for the american people today. Did the president’s request for loyalty, your impression, that the one-on-one dinner of January 27th was, and I quote, at least in part an effort to create some sort of patronage relationship or his March 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of Russian investigation in any way. Alter your approach into the investigation. In your opinion, did potential Russian efforts to establish links with individuals in the Trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion, or was it a counterintelligence concern. There’s been a significant public speculation about your decision making related to the clinton e-mail investigation. Why did you decide publicly to — to publicly announce FBI’s recommendations that the department of justice not pursue criminal charges? you have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. The American people need to understand the facts behind your action. This committee is uniquely suited today investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. We have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly partisan issue. Russian activities may have been aimed at one party’s colleague but as my colleague Senator Rubio says frequently, in 2018 and 2020 it could be aimed at anyone at home or abroad. My colleague Senator Warner and I have worked to stay in lockstep on this investigation. We’ve had our differences. On approach, at times. But I’ve constantly stressed we need to be a team. I think Senator Warner agrees with me. We must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. It’s too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. With that, I welcome you, director and I turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Let me start by thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness for which they’ve taken on this task. Mr. Comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee’s investigation into Russia. I realize that this hearing has been obviously, the focus of a lot of Washington in the last few days. The truth is, many Americans who may be tuning in today probably haven’t focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. So I’d like to briefly describe, at least from this senator’s standpoint, what we already know, and what we’re still investigating. To be clear, this investigation is not about relitigating the election. It’s not about who won or lost. And it sure as heck is not about democrats versus republicans. We are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home. Plain and simple. Not by guns or missiles but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. Russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids, and a broad campaign of disinformation. All ultimately aimed at sowing chaos in our leadership and ultimately in ourselves. That’s not just this senator’s opinion. It’s the unanimous determination of the entire u.S. Intelligence community. So we must find out the full story. What the Russians did and candidly as some other colleagues have mentioned, why they were so successful. And more importantly, we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy, and insure they can’t do it again. The chairman mentioned elections in 2018 and 2020. In Virginia, we have elections this year in 2017. Simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. Mr. Comey let me say at the outset, we haven’t always agreed on every issue. In fact, I’ve occasionally questioned some of the actions you’ve taken. But I’ve never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. You’ve been a straight shooter with this committee. And have been willing to speak truth to power. Even at the risk of your own career. Which makes the way in which you are fired by the president ultimately shocking. Recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the Russians were ever involved, and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any Russians. We know that’s just not the truth. Numerous trump associates had undisclosed contacts with Russians before and after the election. Including the president’s attorney general, his former national security advisor, and his current senior advisor, mr. Kushner. That doesn’t even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisors who have also been caught up in this massive web. We saw mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Mr. Manafort forced to step down over ties to Russian backed entities. The national security advisor, General Flynn had to resign over his lies about engagements with the Russians. And we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the Russian dictator, while calling for the hacking of his opponent. There’s a lot to investigate. Enough, in fact, then Director Comey publicly acknowledged he was leading an investigation into those links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. As the director of the FBI, Mr. Comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation. Which might explain why you’re sitting now as a private citizen. What we didn’t know was that the same time this investigation was proceeding, the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence, or at least co-op the director of the FBI. The testimony Mr. Comey has submitted for today’s hearing is very disturbing. On January 27th after summoning director Comey to dinner. The president appears to have threatened the director’s job while telling him, quote, I need loyalty. I expect loyalty. At a later meeting, on February 14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the oval office so that he could privately ask Director Comey, again, quote, to see way clear to letting Flynn go. That is a statement that director Comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to General Flynn’s false statements. Think about it. The President of the United States asking the FBI director to drop an ongoing investigation. And after that, the president called the FBI director on two additional occasions, March 30th and April 11th. And asked him, again, quote, to lift the cloud on the Russian investigation. Now, Director Comey denied each of these improper requests. The loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the Flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud, and the Russian investigation. Of course, after his refusals, Director Comey was fired. The initial explanation for the firing didn’t pass any smell tests. Somehow Director Comey was fired because he didn’t treat Hillary Clinton appropriately. Of course, that explanation lasted about a day because the President himself then made very clear that he was thinking about Russia when he decided to fire Director Comey. Shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much in an oval office meeting with the Russians the day after director Comey was fired. Disparaging our country’s top law enforcement official is a quote unquote, nut job. The president allegedly suggested his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about Russia. This is not happening in isolation. At the same time the president was engaged in these efforts with Director Comey he was also, at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the Russian investigation or to intervene with the director. Yesterday, we had DNI Director Coats and NSA Director Admiral Rogers who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. They expressed their opinions, but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. They did not take advantage of that opportunity. My belief, that’s not how a president of the United States should behave. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the Russia links, Director Comey’s firing and his testimony raised separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. Again, as I said at the outset I’ve seen first-hand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. I’m proud of the committee’s efforts so far. Let me be clear, this is not a witch-hunt. This is not fake news. It is an effort to protect our country from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away anytime soon. So, Mr. Comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal. I look forward to that testimony, thank you Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Thank you, vice chairman. Director, as discussed when you agreed to appear before the committee, it would be under oath. I ask you to please stand, raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Please be seated. Director Comey you’re now under oath. And I would just note to members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes, and, again, It’s the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 P.M. With that, Director Comey, you are recognized. You have the floor for as long as you might need.

James Comey:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ranking member Warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. I have submitted my statement for the record and I’m not going to repeat it here this morning. I thought I would offer brief introductory remarks and I would welcome your questions. When I was appointed FBI director in 2013, I understood that I served at the pleasure of the President. Even though I was appointed to a ten-year term, which congress created in order to underscore the importance of the FBI being outside of politics and independent, I understood that I could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. And on May 9th, when I learned I had been fired for that reason, I immediately came home as a private citizen. But then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. They confused me because the president that I had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and he hoped I would stay. And I had repeatedly assured him that I did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term. He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me. Including our current attorney general. And had learned I was doing a great job. And that I was extremely well-liked by the FBI work force. So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation. And learned, again, from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russian investigation. I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly, that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn’t make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions had had to be made. That didn’t make any sense to me. And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray. That it was poorly led. That the workforce had lost confidence In its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them and I’m so sorry the American people were told them. I worked every day at the FBI to help make that great organization better. As a help, because I did nothing alone at the FBI. There are no indispensable people at the FBI. The organization’s great strength is that its value and abilities run deep and wide. The FBI will be fine without me. The FBI’s mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people and that mission is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States. I will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. I have a message before I close for the — for my former colleagues of the FBI. First I want the American people to know this truth. The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent. And now to my former colleagues, If I may, I am so sorry I didn’t get the chance to say good bye to you properly. It was the honor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the FBI family and I will miss it for the rest of my life. Thank you for standing watch, thank you for doing so much good for this country. Do that good as long as ever you can. And senators, I look forward to your questions.

Related Content From TIME: James Comey: White House Comments on Firing Were ‘Lies, Plain and Simple’

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and the written testimony that you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the American people. The chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes, vice chair for 12 minutes based upon the agreement we have. Director, did the special counsel’s office review and/or edit your written testimony?

James Comey:
No.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere In the 2016 election?

James Comey:
None.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the DNC and DCCC systems and the subsequent leaks of that information?

James Comey:
No, no doubt.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

James Comey:
No.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Do you have any doubt that officials of the Russian government were fully aware of these activities?

James Comey:
No doubt.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

James Comey:
I’m confident. When I left as director I had seen no indication of that whatever.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director Comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the FBI Investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections?

James Comey:
Not to my understanding, no.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Did any individual working for this administration, including the Justice Department, ask you to stop the Russian investigation?

James Comey:
No.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director, when the president requested that you — and I quote — let Flynn go, General Flynn had an unreported contact with the Russians. Which is an offense. And if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his FBI testimony. In your estimation, was general Flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy? In addition to that, do you sense that the President was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for Mike Flynn to save face, given he had already been fired?

James Comey:
General Flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. There was an open FBI criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts. And the contacts themselves. And so that was my assessment at the time. I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning. But that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there and whether that’s an offense.

James Comey:
Director, is it possible that as part of this FBI investigation the FBI could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, or coordination with Russians?

James Comey:
Sure.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
So there could be something that just fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn’t have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle?

James Comey:
Correct, in any complex investigation when you start turning over rocks sometimes you find things that are unrelate today the primary investigation that are criminal in nature.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director, Comey you have been you criticized publicly for your decision to present your findings on the e-mail investigation directly to the American people. Have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the American people?

James Comey:
Honestly, no. It caused a whole lot of personal pain for me, but as I look back, given what I knew at the time and even what I’ve learned since I think It was the best way to try and protect the justice institution, including the FBI.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
In the public domain, is this question of the steel dossier a document that has been around now for over a year, I’m not sure when the FBI first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained In the steel document?

James Comey:
Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting. It goes into the details of the investigation.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director, the term we hear most often is collusion. When people are describing possible links between Americans and Russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say that it’s normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration?

James Comey:
Yes.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
At what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies?

James Comey:
Difficult to say in the abstract. It depends on the context, whether there’s an effort to keep it covert. What the nature of the request made to the American. It’s a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
At what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country?

James Comey:
Difficult to answer in the abstract. But when a foreign power is using — especially coercion or some sort of pressure to try to co-opt an American, especially a government official to act on its behalf that’s a serious concern to the FBI and at the heart of the FBI’s counterintelligence mission.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
If you’ve got a 36-page document of specific claims that are out there, the FBI would have to — for counterintelligence reasons — try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost, is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail? would that be an accurate statement?

James Comey:
Yes if the FBI receives a credible allegation there is some attempt to coerce an American on behalf of a foreign power that’s the basis on which a case is open.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
When you read the dossier, what was your reaction given that it was 100% directed at the President-Elect?

James Comey:
Not a question I can answer in an open setting, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Okay. When did you become aware of the cyber intrusion?

James Comey:
The first — all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. The first Russia connected cyber intrusion I became aware of in the late summer of 2015.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
And in that timeframe there were more than the DNC and DCCC that were targets?

James Comey:
Correct, there was a massive effort to target government and non-governmental — near governmental agencies like non-profits.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
What would be the estimate of how many entities out there the Russians specifically targeted in that timeframe?

James Comey:
It’s hundreds, I suppose it could be more than a thousand. But it’s at least hundreds.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
When did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated?

James Comey:
I’m not sure exactly. I think either late ’15 or early ’16.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Did you, the director of the FBI, have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed?

James Comey:
Yes.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
And share with us, if you will, what actions they took.

James Comey:
Well, the FBI had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims, and that’s what we consider the entities that were attacked as part of this massive spear phishing campaign. We notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing. And then there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of ’15 into ’16 and throughout ’16 the administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity it saw.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
The FBI in this case, unlike other cases you might investigate, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked? or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the data they had collected?

James Comey:
In the case of the DNC we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high class entity that had done the work. We didn’t get direct access.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
No content?

James Comey:
Correct.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counterintelligence standpoint?

James Comey:
It is. Although what was briefed to me by my folks, the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Let me go back, If I can, very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the e-mail. Was your decision influenced by the attorney general’s tarmac meeting with the former president, bill clinton?

James Comey:
Yes, In an ultimately conclusive way that’s the thing that capped it for me that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation which meant both the FBI and the justice department.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Were there other things that contributed to that that you can describe in an open session?

James Comey:
There were other things that contributed to that. One significant item I can’t. I know the committee’s been briefed on. There’s been public accounts of it which are nonsense. But I understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. The only other consideration I can talk about in an open session, she told me to call it matter, which confused me and concerned me. But that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Director, my last question, you’re not only a seasoned prosecutor, you’ve led the FBI for years. You understand the investigative process. You’ve worked with this committee closely and we’re grateful to you because I think we’ve mutually built trust in what your organization does and what we do. Is there any doubt in your mind that this committee can carry out its oversight role in the 2016 Russian involvement in the elections in parallel with the now special counsel that’s been set up?

James Comey:
No, no doubt. It can be done. It requires lots of conversations. Bob mueller is one of these country’s great pros and I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out with him to run it in parallel.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
I want to thank you once again and I want to turn to the vice chairman.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Director Comey, thank you for your service. Your comments to your FBI family, I know were heart felt. Know that even though there are some in the administration who have tried to smear your reputation, you had Acting Director McCabe in public testimony a few weeks back and in public testimony yesterday, reaffirm that the vast majority of FBI community had great trust in your leadership. And, obviously, trust in your integrity. I want to go through a number of the meetings that you referenced in your testimony. And let’s start with the January 6th meeting in trump tower. Where you went up with a series of officials to brief the President-Elect on the Russia investigation. My understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him on again, quote, some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relayed. Now you said after that briefing, you felt compelled to document that conversation that you actually started documenting as soon as you got into the car. Now, you’ve had extensive experience at the Department of Justice and at the FBI, you’ve worked on the president’s of both parties, what was it about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?

James Comey:
A combination of things. I think the circumstances, the subject matter and the person I was interacting with. Circumstances first, I was alone with the president of the United States. Or the President-Elect, soon to be president. The subject matter, I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility and it related to the President-Elect personally. And then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document. That combination of things I had never experienced before but it led me to believe I got towrite it down in a very detailed way.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
I think that’s a very important statement you just made. And my understanding is that then, again, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, In every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. Did you feel you needed to create this written record of these memos because they might need to be relied on at some future date?

James Comey:
Sure. I created records after conversations — I think I did it after each of our nine conversations, If I didn’t, I did them for nearly all of them. Especially the ones that were substantive. I knew there might come a day where I might need a record to defend not just myself but the FBI, and our integrity and the independent. That’s what made it so difficult. It was a combination of circumstances, subject matter and a particular person.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
This was the only president that you felt like in every meeting you need today document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting?

James Comey:
That’s right, senator. And I — as I said in my written testimony. As FBI director I interacted with President Obama and spoke only twice in three years and didn’t document it. When I was deputy attorney general I had one one-on-one meeting with president bush about a national security matter. I didn’t document that conversation either. I didn’t feel with President Bush the need to document it in that way. Because of the combination of those factors, just wasn’t present with either President Bush or President Obama.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
I think that’s very significant. I think others will probably question that. Now, our chairman and I have requested those memos. It’s our hope that the FBI will get this committee access to those memos. We can read that contemporaneous rendition so we’ve got your side of the story. I know members have said and press have said that if you were — a great deal has been made whether the president — whether you were asked whether the president was the subject of any investigation. My understanding is prior to your meeting on January 6th you discussed with your leadership team whether or not you should be prepared to assure then President-Elect trump that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Now my understanding is your leadership team agreed with that. But was that a unanimous decision? was there any debate about that?

James Comey:
Wasn’t unanimous. One of the members of the leadership team had a view that although it was technically true we did not have a counterintelligence file case open on then President-Elect trump. His concern was because we’re looking at the potential, again, that’s the subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and Russia because it was president trump, President-Elect trump’s campaign, this person’s view was inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work and so he was reluctant to make the statement that I made. I disagreed. I thought it was fair to say what was literally true. There is not a counterintelligence investigation of Mr. Trump. And I decided in the moment to say it given the nature of our conversation.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
At that moment in time, did you ever revisit that in the subsequent sessions?

James Comey:
With the FBI leadership team? sure. And the leader had that view, It didn’t change. His view was still it was probably, although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch — obviously it would touch the campaign and the person the head of the campaign would be the candidate. That was his view throughout.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Let me move to the January 27th dinner where you said the president began by asking whether I wanted to stay on as FBI director. He indicated lots of people wanted the job. You go on to say that the dinner itself was seemingly an effort to quote, have you ask him for your job and create some sort of quote unquote, patronage relationship. The president seems from, my reading of your memo, to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing your job over your head in a fairly direct way. What was your impression and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship?

James Comey:
Well, my impression, again, It’s my impression, I could always be wrong. My commonsense told me that what was going on is either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn’t — you’ve already asked Comey to stay and you didn’t get anything for it. And that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship — In fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. As I said, what was odd about that we had already talked twice about it by that point and he’d said I hope you’ll stay. In fact, I just remembered sitting here a third one, you’ve seen the picture of me walking across the blue room. And what the president whispered in my ear was I really look forward to working with you.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
That was just a few days before you were fired.

James Comey:
That was on the Sunday after the inauguration. The next Friday I have dinner, and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job. And so I’m sitting there thinking, wait a minute, three times we’ve already — you’ve asked me to stay or talked about me staying. I could be wrong, but my commonsense told me what’s going on here is, he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my requests to stay in the job.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Again, we all understand. I was a governor, I had people work for me. This constant requests, again, quoting you, him saying that he — you explained your independence he came back to I need loyalty, I expect loyalty. Have you ever had any of those kind of requests from anyone else you ever worked for in the government?

James Comey:
No. What made me uneasy. I’m at that point the director of the FBI. The reason that congress created a ten year term is so that the director is not feeling as if they’re serving at — with political loyalty owed to any particular person. The statute of justice has a blindfold on because you’re not supposed to be peeking out to see whether your patron is seeing what you’re doing. It’s about the law. That’s why I became FBI director to be in that kind of position. That’s why I was uneasy.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Let me move on. February 14th. It seems a bit strange, you were in a meeting. And your direct superior, the attorney general, was in that meeting as well, yet the president asked everyone to leave, Including the attorney general to leave before he brought up the matter of General Flynn. What was your impression of that type of action? have you ever seen anything like that before?

James Comey:
No. My impression was something big was about to happen. I need to remember every single word that is spoken. Again, I could be wrong. I’m 56 years old, I’ve been — seen a few things. My sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving which is why he was lingering. I don’t know Mr. Kushner well but I think he picked up on the same thing. I knew something was about to happen and I needed to pay close attention to.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
I found it very interesting that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?

James Comey:
Well, I remember thinking this is a very disturbing development. Really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, this committee gets this, but sometimes when things are classified, It tangles them up. It’s hard —

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Amen.

James Comey:
— to share it within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handle it, for good reason. My thinking was if I write it in such a way that I don’t include anything that would trigger classification. That would make it easier for us to discuss within the FBI and the government and to hold on to it in a way that makes it accessible to us.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Again, It’s our hope, particularly since you pretty knowledgeable guy and you wrote this in a way that was unclassified that this committee will get access to that unclassified document. I think it would be very important to our investigation. Let me just ask this in closing, how many ongoing investigations at any time does the FBI have?

James Comey:
Tens of thousands.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Tens of thousands. Did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation?

James Comey:
No.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation?

James Comey:
No.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
I think, again, this speaks volumes, this doesn’t even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. I know other members will get to that. But I really appreciate your testimony and appreciate your service to our nation.

James Comey:
Thank you, Senator Warner. I’m sitting here going through my contacts. I had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our — an ongoing intelligence investigation, it was brief and entirely professional.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
He didn’t ask you to take any specific action?

James Comey:
No.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner – Virginia:
Unlike what he had done vis-à-vis Admiral Flynn?

James Comey:
No.

James Risch – Idaho:
America needs more like you and we really appreciate it. Yesterday I got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that’s now a part of the record here. And the first — I read it, then I read it again. And all I could think was number one, how much I hated the class of legal writing when I was in law school. You’re the guy that probably got the a after reading this. So I find it clear, I find it concise. And having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundred, maybe thousands of cases and read police reports, Investigative reports, this is as good as it gets. And I really appreciate that. Not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened and you actually put them in quotes. So we know exactly what happened and we’re not getting some rendition of it that it’s your mind.

James Comey:
Thank you.

James Risch – Idaho:
You’re to be complimented.

James Comey:
I had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me.

James Risch – Idaho:
That’s obvious. The chairman walked you through a number of things that the American people need to know and want to know. Number one, obviously, we all know about the active measures the Russians have taken. I think a lot of people were surprised at this. Those of us that work in the intelligence community didn’t come as a surprise. Now the American people know this and it’s good they know this. Because it’s serious and it’s a problem. Secondly, I gather from all this that you’re willing to say now that while you were director the president of the United States was not under investigation, Is that a fair statement?

James Comey:
That’s correct.

James Risch – Idaho:
That’s a fact we can rely on?

James Comey:
Yes, sir.

James Risch – Idaho:
I remember you talked with us shortly after february 14th when “the new york times” wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. You remember reading that article when it came out?

James Comey:
I do it was about extensive electronic surveillance.

James Risch – Idaho:
Correct. That upset you to the point where you went out and surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something in that, Is that correct?

James Comey:
That’s correct. I want to be careful in open setting —

James Risch – Idaho:
I’m not going to go any further than that, so thank you. In addition to that, after that, you sought out, both republican and democrat senators to tell them that, hey, I don’t know where this is coming from, but this is not the case. This is not factual. Do you recall that?

James Comey:
Yes.

James Risch – Idaho:
Okay. So, again, so the American people can understand this, that report by “the new york times” was not true, Is that fair statement?

James Comey:
It was not true. Again, all of you know this, maybe the American people don’t. The challenge — I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information. That people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it and we don’t call the press to say, hey, you got that thing wrong about this sensitive topic, we just have to leave it there, mention the chairman and the nonsense about what influenced me to make the july 5th statement, nonsense. But I can’t go explaining how it is nonsense.

James Risch – Idaho:
Thank you. All right. So those three things we now know regarding the active measures with the president under investigation and the collusion between the Russian and — the Trump campaign and the Russians. I want to drill right down as my time is limited to the most recent dustup regarding allegations that the president of the United States obstructed justice. And you nailed this down on page five, paragraph three, you put this in quotes, words matter, you wrote down the words so we can have the words in front of us now. 28 words in quotes, It says, quote, I hope, this is the president speaking, I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He’s a good guy. I hope you can let this go. Now, those are his exact words, is that correct?

James Comey:
Correct.

James Risch – Idaho:
You wrote them here and put them in quotes.

James Comey:
Correct.

James Risch – Idaho:
Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go.

James Comey:
Not in his words, no.

James Risch – Idaho:
He did not order you to let it go.

James Comey:
Again, those words are not an order.

James Risch – Idaho:
He said I hope. Now, like me you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases charging people with criminal offenses, and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there that — where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter any other criminal offense where this — they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?

James Comey:
I don’t know well enough to answer. And the reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction. It is the president of the United States, with me alone, saying I hope this, I took it as this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

James Risch – Idaho:
You may have taken it as a direction, but that’s not what he said. He said — he said I hope.

James Comey:
Those are the exact words, correct.

James Risch – Idaho:
You don’t know of anyone that has ever been charging for hoping something, is that a fair statement.

James Comey:
I don’t as I sit here.

James Risch – Idaho:
Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Senator Feinstein.

Dianne Feinstein:
Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, I just want you to know I have great respect for you. Senator Cornyn and I sit on the judiciary committee, so we have occasion to have you before us. And I know that you’re a man of strength and integrity. And I really regret the situation that we all find ourselves in. I just want to say that let me begin with one overarching question. Why do you believe you were fired?

James Comey:
I guess I don’t know for sure. I believe — I think the President at his word, I was fired because of the Russian investigation, something about the way I was conducting it, the President felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. Again, I didn’t know that at the time, but I watched his interview, read the press accounts of his conversations, so I take him at his word there. Look, I could be wrong. Maybe he’s saying something that is not true, but I take him at his word, at least based on what I know now.

Dianne Feinstein:
Talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty. And your response to that. And what impact you believe that had.

James Comey:
I don’t know for sure. I don’t know the President well enough to read him well. I think it was — our relationship didn’t get off to a great start given the conversation I had to have on January 6th. This was not — this didn’t improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. He was asking for something and I was refusing to give it, but, again, I don’t know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly.

Dianne Feinstein:
Do you believe the Russia investigation played a role?

James Comey:
In why I was fired?

Dianne Feinstein:
Yes.

James Comey:
Yes, because I’ve seen the President say so.

Dianne Feinstein:
Let’s go to the Flynn issue. Senator Risch outlined, I hope you can see your way to letting Flynn go, he’s a good guy, I hope you can let this go. But you also said in your written remarks and I quote, that you 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, end quote. Please go into that with more detail.

James Comey:
Well, the context and the President’s words are what led me to that conclusion, as I said in my statement, I could be wrong, but Flynn had been forced to resign the day before. And the controversy around general Flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he had lied to the vice President about the nature of his conversations with the Russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of that, and so that happens on the day before on the 14th the President makes specific reference to that, and so that’s why I understood him to be saying what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to Flynn’s account of his conversations with the Russians.

Dianne Feinstein:
Now, here’s the question. You’re big, you’re strong. I know the oval office and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong? I cannot discuss this with you.

James Comey:
It is a great question. Maybe if I were stronger I would have, I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it In. And the only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind, remember, every word he said was playing in my mind, what should my response be and that’s why I very carefully chose the words. Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. I hope there are tapes. I remember saying I agree he’s a good guy as a way of saying I’m not agreeing with what you asked me to do. Maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. But that was — that’s how I conducted myself. I hope I never have another opportunity, maybe if I did it again, I would do it better.

Dianne Feinstein:
You described two phone calls that you received from President Trump. One on March 30, and one on April 11th, where he, quote, described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as President and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. What — how did you interpret that and what did you believe he wanted you to do.

Dianne Feinstein:
I interpreted that as he was frustrated that the Russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy. I think he meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general and making it difficult to focus on other priorities of his. What he asked me was actually narrower than that. I think what he meant by the cloud, I could be wrong, but what I think he meant by the cloud was the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on the things I want to focus on. The ask was, to get it out that I, the President, am not personally under investigation.

Dianne Feinstein:
After April 11th, did he ask you more ever about the Russia investigation? Did he ask you any questions?

James Comey:
We never spoke again after April 11th. That was a slightly cowardly way to avoid telling him we’re not going to do that, that I would see what we could do, a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general Mr. Benty.

Dianne Feinstein:
I wanted to go into that. Who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stopping the investigation, back at the FBI and what was their response?

James Comey:
The FBI, during one of the two conversations, not remembering exactly, I think the first, my chief of staff was actually sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the President’s call was a surprise. And I discussed the lifting of the cloud in the request with the senior leadership team, who in typically, I think in all of these circumstances was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director’s chief counsel, and I think in a number of circumstances the number three in the FBI, and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. That group of us that lead the FBI when it comes to national security.

Dianne Feinstein:
Okay. You have the President of the United States asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. What was the response of your colleagues?

James Comey:
I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was. Some said things that led me to believe that, I don’t remember exactly, but the reaction was similar to mine, all experienced people who had never experienced such a thing. So they were very concerned. And then the conversation turned to about so what should we do with this information? and that was a struggle for us. Because we are the leaders of the FBI, so it has been reported to us and that I heard it and now I shared it with the leaders of the FBI, our conversation was should we share this with any senior officials of the justice department. Absolute primary concern was we can’t infect the investigative team. Don’t want the agents and analysts working on this to know the President of the United States as asked, and when it comes to the President, I took it as a direction, to get rid of this investigation because we’re not going to follow that. That request. And so we decided we got to keep it way from our troops, but is there anybody else we ought to tell the justice department. As I laid out in my statement, we considered whether to tell the attorney general decided that didn’t make sense because we believed, rightly, he was shortly going to recuse, there were no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. The deputy attorney general was Mr. Benty, who was acting, going to be shortly in that seat, and we decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it In a box, document it, as we had already done, and in this investigation is going to go on, figure out what to do with it down the road. Is there a way to corroborate this. At the time, It is was your word against the President, no way to corroborate this. My view of that changed when the prospect of tapes was raised, but that’s how we thought about it then.

Dianne Feinstein:
Thank you. Thank you.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Senator Rubio.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Thank you. Director Comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about mike Flynn, was that the only time he asked you to hopefully let it go?

James Comey:
Yes.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
And in that meeting as you understood it, that was — he was asking not about the general Russia investigation, he was asking very specifically about the jeopardy that Flynn was in himself.

James Comey:
That’s how I understood it, yes, sir.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
As you perceived it, while he was a request that you hoped you would do away with it, you perceived it as an order?

James Comey:
Yes.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
At the time did you say anything to the President about that, that’s not an appropriate request or tell the white house counsel that is not an appropriate request, someone needs to tell the President that he can’t do these things?

James Comey:
I didn’t, no.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Okay. Why?

James Comey:
I don’t know. I think the — as I said earlier, I think the circumstances were such, I was a bit stunned and didn’t have the presence of mind and I don’t know, I don’t want to make you sound like I’m captain courageous, I don’t know whether if I had the presence of mind, I would have said, sir, that’s wrong. I don’t know whether I would have. In the moment, It didn’t come to my mind, what came to my mind is be careful what you say and so I said, I agree Flynn is a good guy.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
On the cloud, we keep talking about this cloud, you perceive the cloud to be the Russian investigation in general.

James Comey:
Yes, sir.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
But his specific ask was that you would tell the American people what you had already told him, what you had already told the leaders of congress, both Democrats and Republicans, that he was not personally under investigation.

James Comey:
Yes, sir.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
He was asking you to do what you have done here today?

James Comey:
Correct, yes, sir.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Okay. And, again, at that setting, did you say to the President, that it would be inappropriate for you to do so and talk to the white house counsel or anybody so they would hopefully talk to him and tell him he couldn’t do this?

James Comey:
First time I said I’ll see what we can do, second time, I explained how it should work that the white house counsel should contact the deputy attorney general.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
You told him —

James Comey:
The President said, okay, I think that’s what I’ll do.

James Comey:
To be clear, for you to make a public statement he was not under investigation would not have been illegal, but you felt that it made no sense because it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed.

James Comey:
Yes, sir. We wrestled with it before my testimony, where I confirmed that there was an investigation, and there were two primary concerns. One was it creates a duty to correct, which I lived before, and you want to be very careful about doing that, and second, It is a slippery slope because if we say the President, and the vice President aren’t under investigation, what is the principled basis for stopping. And so the leadership at justice acting attorney general benty said you’re not going to do that.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
On March 30th, during the phone call about general Flynn, you said he abruptly shifted and brought up something that you call quote/unquote the McCabe thing, specifically theMcCabe thing as you understood it was that McCabe’s wife received campaign money from what I assume mean Terry McAuliffe?

James Comey:
Yes, sir.

James Comey:
Very close to the clintons. And so why did you — had the President at any point in time expressed to you concern, opposition, potential opposition to McCabe, I don’t like this guy, he got money from someone close to clinton.

James Comey:
He asked me during previous conversations about andy mccabe. And said in essence how is he going to be with me as President. I was rough on him on the campaign trail.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Rough on McCabe?

James Comey:
By his own account, he said he was rough on McCabe and Mr. McCabe on the campaign trail, how is he going to be? I assured the President andy is a total pro, no issue at all, you got to note people at the FBI, they are not —

Marco Rubio – Florida:
The President turns to you and says, remember, I never brought up the mccabe thing, because you said he was a good guy, did you perceive that to be a statement that I took care of you, I didn’t do something because you told me he was a good guy, so now, you know, I’m asking you potentially for something in return? Is that how you perceived it?

James Comey:
I didn’t know what to make of it, honestly. That’s possible, but it was so out of context, I didn’t have a clear view of what it was.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
On a number of occasions here, you bring up — let’s talk about the general Russia investigation, okay. And page six of your testimony you say, the first thing you say is he asked what we could do to quote/unquote lift the cloud, the general Russia investigation and you responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could and that there would be great benefit if we didn’t find anything to having done the work well and he agreed. He re-emphasized the problems it was causing him but agreed. The President agreed with your statement it would be great if we could have an investigation all the facts came out, and we found nothing. So he agreed that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda, Is that an accurate assessment?

James Comey:
Yes, he went further than that. He said if some of my satellites did something wrong, It would be good to find that out.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
That’s the second part. That is the satellites. He said if one of my satellites, I imagine by that he meant some of the other people surrounding his campaign did something wrong, It would be great to know that as well.

James Comey:
Yes, sir, that’s what he said.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Are those the other — only two instances in which that sort of back and forth happened where the President was basically saying, I’m paraphrasing here, It is okay, do the Russia investigation, I hope it all comes out, I have nothing to do with anything Russia, and it would be great if all came out, If people around me were doing things that were wrong.

James Comey:
Yes, as I recorded it accurately, that was the sentiment he was expressing.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
When it comes down to, the President is asked three things of you, for your loyalty, you said you would be loyally honest.

James Comey:
Honestly loyal.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Honestly loyal. The — he asked you on one occasion to let the mike Flynn thing go because he was a good guy. You’re aware he said the exact same thing in the press the next day, he’s a good guy, treated unfairly, I imagine your FBI agents read that.

James Comey:
I’m sure they did.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
The President’s wishes were known to them, certainly by the next day when he had a press conference, the prime minister. Going back, the three requests were, number one, be loyal, number two, let the mike Flynn thing go, he’s a good guy, treated unfairly, and number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in congress already know, what you already know, you told me three times, that I’m not under personally under investigation.

James Comey:
Those are the three things he asked, yes, sir.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
This investigation is full of leaks, left and right. We learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we do from our open hearings for sure. Ever wonder why of all the things in this investigation the only thing that has never been leaked is the fact that the President was not personally under investigation? despite the fact that both democrats and republicans and the leadership of congress knew that and have known that for weeks?

James Comey:
I don’t know. I find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held in my experience.

Marco Rubio – Florida:
Finally, who are those senior leaders at the FBI that you share these conversations with?

James Comey:
As I said in response to senator feinstein’s question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy directors, chief counsel, and then more often than not the number three person at the FBI, the associate deputy director, and then quite often head of the national security branch.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Senator Wyden.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, welcome. You and I have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting Americans’ access to secure encryption. I believe the timing of your firing stinks. And yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of Presidential abuse of power is so strong. Now, to my questions. In talking to senator Warner about this dinner that you had with the President, I believe january 27th, all in one dinner the President raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty, and denied allegations against him. All took place over one supper. Now, you told senator Warner that the President was looking to, quote, get something. Looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation?

James Comey:
I don’t know that I would go that far. I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I — excuse me, how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty. But I don’t know whether I would go so far as to connect it to the investigation.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
You said the President was trying to create some sort of patronage relationship. In a patronage relationship, Isn’t the underling expected to behave in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss?

James Comey:
Yes. At least consider how what you’re doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Let me turn to the Attorney General. In your statement, you said that you and the FBI leadership team decided not to discuss the President’s actions with Attorney General sessions. Even though he had not recused himself. What was it about the attorney general’s own interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?

James Comey:
Our judgment as I recall was that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons, we also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting, that would make his continued engagement in a Russia related investigation problematic and so we were — we were convinced and in fact, I think we had already heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia related matters much longer. That turned out to be the case.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
How would you characterize Attorney General sessions adherence to his recusal? In particular with regard to his involvement in your firing which the President has acknowledged was because of the Russian investigation.

James Comey:
That’s a question I can’t answer, I think it Is a reasonable question. If as the President said I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain. I don’t know. So I don’t have an answer for the question.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Your testimony was that the President’s request about Flynn could infect the investigation. Had the President got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the affect on the investigation?

James Comey:
We would have closed any investigation of General Flynn in connection with his statements and encounters — statements and encounters with Russians in the late part of December. So we would have dropped an open criminal investigation.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
So in effect when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the American people to get the facts?

James Comey:
Correct. And as good as our people are, our judgment was we don’t want them hearing that the President of the United States wants this to go away. Because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair and impartial and aggressive.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Now, the acting Attorney General Yates found out that Michael Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians. And she went immediately to warn the white house. Flynn is gone. But other individuals with contacts, with the Russians, are still in extremely important positions of power. Should the American people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them?

James Comey:
I think all I can say, senator, Is it Is a — the special counsel’s investigation is very important to understanding what efforts there were or are by the Russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the FBI’s mission. So — you got the right person involved, Bob Mueller, to lead it. It is an important piece of work.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Vice President pence was the head of the transition. To your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn prior to or during General Flynn’s tenure as national security adviser?

James Comey:
I don’t — you’re asking including up to the time when Flynn was forced to resign, my understanding is he was. And I’m trying to remember where I get that understanding from. I think from Acting Attorney General Yates.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
So former Acting Attorney General Yates testified that concerns about general Flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. Would that have included anyone at the CIA or Dan Coats’ office, the DNI?

James Comey:
I would assume yes.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Michael Flynn resigned four days after attorney general sessions was sworn in. Do you know if the Attorney General was aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn during that period?

James Comey:
I don’t, as I sit here, I don’t recall that he was. I could be wrong. I don’t remember that he was.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
And finally, let’s see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. Besides the letters and attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or have been involved in the firing.

James Comey:
I don’t. I don’t.

Ron Wyden – Oregon:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Senator Collins.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Thank you, mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, let me begin by thanking you for your volunteer compliance with our request to appear before this committee and assist us in this very important investigation I want first to ask you about your conversations with the President, the three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation the first during the January 6th meeting according to your testimony in which it appears you actually volunteered that assurance, Is that correct?

James Comey:
That’s correct.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Did you limit that statement to counterintelligence investigations orere you talking about any kind of FBI investigation?

James Comey:
I didn’t use the term counterintelligence. I was speaking to him and briefing him about some salacious and unverified material. It was in a context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true, and my reading of it was, It was important for me to assure him we were not personally investigating him, and so the context then was actually narrower, focused on what I just talked to him about but very important because it was first true and second I was very, very much about being in kind of a — kind of a J. Edgar Hoover type situation. I didn’t want him thinking I was briefing him on this, to sort of hang it over him in some way, I was briefing him on it because we had been told by the media it was about to launch, we don’t want to be keeping that from him, and if there was — he needed to know this was being said. But I was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him, and so that’s the context in which I said, sir, we’re not personally investigating you.

Susan Collins – Maine:
And then on — and that’s why you volunteered the information. Then on the January 27th dinner, you told the President that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because, quote, you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren’t. Were you limiting that statement to counterintelligence investigations or more broadly such as a criminal investigation?

James Comey:
The context was similar, I didn’t modify the word investigation. Again, he was reacting strongly against that unverified material saying I’m tempting you to order to investigate it and I said you want to be careful about that because it might create a narrative that we’re investigating you personally.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Then there was the March 30th phone call and with the President in which you reminded him that congressional leaders have been briefed, that we were not personally, the FBI was not personally investigating President trump. And, again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the President limited to counterintelligence investigations or was it a broader statement? I’m trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the President under way.

James Comey:
No. I’m sorry, if I misunderstood, I apologize. We briefed the congressional leadership about what Americans we had opened counterintelligence investigation cases on, and we specifically said the President is not one of those Americans. But that — there was no other investigation of the President that we were not mentioning at that time. The context was counterintelligence. I wasn’t trying to hide a criminal investigation.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Was the President under investigation at the time of your dismissal on may 9th?

James Comey:
No.

Susan Collins – Maine:
I’d like to now turn to the conversations with the President about Michael Flynn, which have been discussed at great length. And, first, let me make very clear that the President never should have cleared the room, and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go, to let the investigation go. But I remain puzzled by your response. Your response was I agree that Michael Flynn is a good guy. You could have said, mr. President, this meeting is Inappropriate, this response could compromise the investigation. You should not be making such a request. It is fundamental to the operation of our government, that the FBI be insulated from this kind of political pressure. And you’ve talked a bit today about that you were stunned by the President making the request. But my question to you is later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel’s office and explain that the President had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role, vis-a-vis the FBI?

James Comey:
In general, I did. I spoke to the attorney general, and I spoke to the new deputy attorney general Mr. Rosenstein when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the President is Interacting, especially with the FBI. And I specifically as I said in my opinion, I asked the attorney general, It can’t happen that you get kicked out of the room and the President talks to me. In the room, and — but why didn’t we raise the specific — It was an investigative interest to us to try to figure out what just happened with the President’s request so I would not have wanted to alert the white house that it had happened until we figured out what are we going to do with this investigatively.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Your testimony was that you went to attorney general sessions and said, don’t ever leave me alone with him again. Are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go, with regard to part of the investigation of Michael Flynn in.

James Comey:
No, I specifically did not. I did not.

Susan Collins – Maine:
You mentioned that from your very first meeting with the President, you decided to write a memo, memorializing the conversation. What was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you had not done that with two previous Presidents?

James Comey:
As I said, a combination of things, a gut feeling is an important overlay on it, but the circumstances that I was alone, the subject matter, and the nature of the person that I was interacting with and my read of that person. And, yeah, and really just a gut feel laying on top of all of that, that this is going to be important to protect this organization that I make records of this.

Susan Collins – Maine:
And finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice?

James Comey:
Yes. I asked President tweeted on friday after I got fired that I better hope there is not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on monday night, because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, might be a tape, my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square and so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend of mine to do that.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Was that Mr. Wittous?

James Comey:
No.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Who was that?

James Comey:
A good friend of mine, professor at Columbia Law School.

Susan Collins – Maine:
Thank you.

Chairman Richard Burr – North Carolina:
Senator Heinrich.

Martin Heinrich – New Mexico:
Mr. Comey, prior to January 27th of this year, have you ever had a one on one meeting or a private dinner with a President of the United States?

James Comey:
No. Dinner, no, I had two one on ones with President Obama I laid out in my testimony, one to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement and race, an important topic throughout for me, and for the President, and then once very briefly for him to say good-bye.

Martin Heinrich – New Mexico:
Were those brief interactions?

James Comey:
No. The one about law enforcement and race, we spoke for probably over an hour, just the two of us.

Martin Heinrich – New Mexico:
How unusual is It to have a one on one dinner with the President? did that strike you as odd?

James Comey:
Yeah, so much so that I assumed there would be others that he couldn’t possibly be having dinner with me alone.

Martin Heinrich – New Mexico:
If — do you have an impression that if you had found — If you behaved differently in that dinner, and I’m quite pleased you did not, but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the Flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you would have still been fired?

James Comey:
I don’t know. It is Impossible to say looking back. I don’t know.

Martin Heinrich – New Mexico:
But you felt like those two things were directly relevant to your — the kind of relationship that the President was seeking to establish with you?

Martin Heinrich – New Mexico:
The President has repeatedly talked about the Russian investigation into the U.S. — the Russia involvement in the u.S. Election cycle as a hoax and as fake news. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI director and obviously only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was, and why there was an investigation in the first place.

James Comey:
Yes, sir. The — there should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. And it was an active measure campaign driven from the top of the government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence, It is not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get and is very, very serious, which is why it Is so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. Because this is about America, not about any particular party.

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