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US senate releases former FBI chief's statement before hearing

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-06-08 09:40

US President Donald Trump (L) speaks in Ypilanti Township, Michigan March 15, 2017 and FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2017 in a combination of file photos. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - The US Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday released a statement from former FBI director James Comey, which revealed five exchanges between him and US President Donald Trump since election day.

The seven page statement, which the former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director was due to formally deliver in a hearing on Thursday, offered the accounts of three one-on-one meetings and two phone calls Comey had with Trump since this year.

The exchanges, which took place on January 6, January 27, February 14, March 30 and April 11, focused mainly on the FBI's ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign, in particular former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and Russia.

According to Comey's recollection, Trump has asked the FBI to stop its investigation on Flynn, who resigned in February after his inappropriate contacts with a Russian diplomat came to light.

"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," the statement quoted Trump as saying in the February 14 meeting.

Comey said he had replied that "he is a good guy", but did not say that he would "let this go."

Another request from Trump was for the FBI to clarify that he was not under investigation himself, to which Comey voluntarily confirmed in the meetings but was reluctant to make public.

"He described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country," the statement said of Trump in the March 30 phone call, adding that Trump had asked how to "lift the cloud".

During their dinner on January 27, Trump asked Comey for loyalty, to which Comey pledged honesty. The two men later agreed that Comey would give "honest loyalty" to Trump, despite Comey admitting later that "it is possible we understood the phrase honest loyalty differently."

Comey also said all of the records were made immediately after each exchanges based on Comey's memory, implying that there were no recordings on Comey's side.

The White House has said it would not exercise executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying in front of Congress.


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