The Senate Intelligence Committee has released the prepared remarks that former FBI director James Comey intends to present when he testifies tomorrow. Comey plans to testify that President Trump personally sought his “loyalty” while also pressing to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation.
Comey will describe a January 27 dinner where, he says, Trump told him: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” In addition, he plans to say that Trump sought his help regarding embattled former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Finally, in good news for the president, Comey plans to testify that he assured Trump he was not personally being investigated. He did this three times, just as Trump has been saying.
Until Comey testifies, and is questioned, it’s premature to draw any conclusions. However, I can’t resist.
If Comey testifies as described above and his testimony is truthful, it seems to me that Trump acted improperly. I question whether a president should be telling the FBI director who is investigating the administration that he expects loyalty, and it’s clear to me that he shouldn’t tell the director what he wants the outcome of the investigation to be.
Others, I’m sure, will take a different view. However, I would ask anyone who disagrees with me to consider how he would view the matter if Barack Obama were the president telling an FBI director these things.
On the other hand, Comey’s prepared testimony comes nowhere close to describing obstruction of justice. And the fact that Trump later fired Comey doesn’t change this, in my view.
President Trump may well dispute Comey’s account of the meetings between the two. It would be hopelessly premature to weigh their credibility in the event of conflicting versions.
I will say that, though Comey has been strongly criticized, and not without justification, I’ve never heard anyone I respect say he’s dishonest. He may be self-righteous to the point of egomania, but dishonest? I have no reason to think so.
But let’s see what Comey’s full testimony is, including answers to questions from committee members, and what, if anything, Trump says to contradict the former director. Then, perhaps, we can judge.
UPDATE: Dan McLaughlin at NRO’s Corner has a good analysis of Comey’s prepared remarks.