Key quotes from James Comey's testimony to Congress

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ComeyImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mr Comey is due to testify on Thursday in his first congressional appearance since his dismissal

Former director of the FBI James Comey is due to testify to Congress on Thursday. Here are the key parts of his opening statement, published a day ahead of time by the Senate intelligence committee.

The highly-anticipated hearing will be the first time the public hears from Mr Comey about his firing by US President Donald Trump.

He is also due to discuss the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and the dismissal of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The Trump assurances

"I discussed with the FBI's leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance. " 6 January 2017

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Trump and Comey met shortly after his inauguration as US president

The loyalty issue

"The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to."

"My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretence that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship."

"I added that I was not on anybody's side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense... A few moments later, the President said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence."

"He then said, 'I need loyalty.' I replied, 'You will always get honesty from me.' He paused and then said, 'That's what I want, honest loyalty.' I paused, and then said, 'You will get that from me.'" 27 January 2017

The Russia dossier

"During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them." 27 January 2017

"He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to 'lift the cloud.'" 30 March 2017

The Flynn conversation

"When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, "'I want to talk about Mike Flynn.'"

He then said, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.' I replied only that 'he is a good guy.'

"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. 14 Feb 2017

Asking Sessions for help

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

"I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me." 14 Feb 2017

Want to read the whole statement? It's on the Senate website.