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Politics

Washington Holds Its Breath with James Comey Set to Testify About President Trump

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Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty
Washington waited in suspense Thursday morning, as Former FBI Director James Comey was set to speak in public for the first time about his relationship with President Trump and the circumstances that led to his firing, in the most hotly anticipated congressional testimony in years.

A long line to get into Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee had already formed outside the Capitol building early Thursday morning. Comey entered the chamber shortly after 10 a.m, and began his testimony after remarks from Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Senator Richard Burr and ranking committee member, Senator Mark Warner.

Comey will confirm that Trump had asked him for “total loyalty” and requested that he drop any potential investigations into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“The President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” Comey will say, according to prepared testimony that was released Wednesday. “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed.”

Comey will also confirm claims by Trump that he had told the President on three separate occasions he himself was not under investigation.

Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9. In a letter informing him of the decision, he cited the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server last year. But the firing immediately stoked outrage in both parties, and the rationale was greeted with widespread skepticism given Trump had praised Comey when Comey announced authorities were re-opening the Clinton email probe days before the election.

Comey had confirmed in March that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the presidential election. Trump had fired the person leading that investigation, and two days later, Trump himself acknowledged that the Russia investigation was a factor.

“In fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story,” he told NBC News. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.”

Trump and his allies were painting Comey’s prepared testimony as vindication Wednesday evening given Comey’s confirmation that he told Trump he was not personally under investigation. But they made no mention of the fact that Comey’s testimony also confirms numerous explosive reports that Trump and his aides have either denied or downplayed.

This article originally appeared on Time.com