FILE PHOTO: U.S. 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.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. 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. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Former FBI Director James Comey felt pressured by US President Donald Trump to drop the investigation of formal national security adviser Michael Flynn. According to Comey’s written testimony, Trump demanded that he gave his loyalty to him, which he refused to do.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released Comey’s seven-page opening statement on Wednesday, ahead of Comey’s hearing with the Congress on Thursday. His testimony is widely anticipated because it could implicate that Trump tried to obstruct justice.

In it, Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, refers to the detailed memos he wrote after his conversations with the chief executive. He wrote about their first meeting on Jan. 6 until his last time he spoke with Trump on April 11.

Some of the details in the testimony have already been reported by various news organisations. As the New York Times notes, by asking his statement to be released a day early, Comey has effectively overshadowed Trump’s announcement that he would nominate Christopher A Wray to be the next FBI director. White House had been preparing to defend the president but not until the Congressional hearing on Thursday.

What Comey’s testimony says

Jan. 6: According to the former FBI director, he first met Trump two weeks before the then-president-elect’s inauguration. Comey was with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him on the findings of an ICE assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. He remained alone with Trump after the meeting to brief him on some sensitive aspects of the information. He assured Trump that the FBI was not investigating him personally, though both agreed that he should do so if circumstances warranted.

Jan. 27: Comey and Trump had dinner in the Green Room at the White House after the president invited him earlier that day. Comey said he falsely thought there would be others present during the meal. Trump began by asking whether Comey wanted to stay on as FBI director, to which he answered yes.

“I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” Trump told him. Comey remained motionless, refusing to agree. He explained why it was important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. When they were nearly finished with their dinner, Trump again said he needed loyalty from Comey.

“You will get honesty from me,” Comey instead replied. When Trump said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty,” Comey paused before answering, “You will get that from me.”

During the dinner, Trump also strongly denied the allegations of Russian interference in the election. He told him that he was considering Comey to investigate the incident to prove it didn’t happen. And as Trump wasn’t being investigated personally, Comey said they should be careful because it might appear that Trump was under investigation himself.

Feb. 14: After a scheduled counter-terrorism briefing of the president at the Oval Office with other officials, Comey was asked to stay. Trump said he wanted to talk about Mike Flynn, who was sacked from his role as National Security adviser the day prior. The president began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to be let go because he misled Vice President Mike Pence. He also had other concerns about Flynn, Trump said, but he did not specify them.

Trump was also concerned about leaks of classified information. However, the meeting appeared to centre on Trump’s commendation of Flynn and why Comey should “let this go.”

“He is a good guy and has been through a lot,” the president said, repeating that Flynn had done nothing wrong in contacting the Russians. “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.”

Comey agreed that Flynn was a good guy but did not say he would let it go. Later following the meeting, the FBI leadership team agreed with Comey not to infect the investigative team with Trump’s request regarding Flynn. They did not report the conversation to Attorney General Jeff Sessions because it was a one-on-one conversation and there was nothing to corroborate his account.

Comey did talk with Sessions afterwards, though regarding Trump’s concerns about leaks and not about Flynn. He asked the AG to prevent any future direct communication between Trump and him.

March 30: Trump called Comey at the FBI to tell him that the Russia investigation was “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. The president denied having to do with Russia, being involved with hookers in Russia, and said he had always assumed he was being recorded in Russia.

He asked Comey to “lift the cloud,” to which Comey replied that the FBI was investigating the matter as quickly as they could. Trump asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the other week. Comey said the leadership of both parties in Congress demanded for more information. The FBI briefed Congress on which individuals they were investigating, adding that Trump was personally not under investigation. Trump repeatedly told Comey to “get that fact out.”

Comey did not say that the FBI and the DOJ were reluctant to make public statements about not investigating Trump. There were a number of reasons they did not want to do so, but in part because they did not want to recant should that change.

April 11: Trump called Comey to ask what he had done about his “get out” request from their last call. Comey told the president that he had passed the request to Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente. Trump reiterated that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his job, to which Comey replied that Trump should perhaps ask the White House counsel to contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request. The president said he would do that, adding: “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.”

Comey did not ask what he meant by “that thing.” The call ended. It was the last time the two spoke with each other.

Trump feels ‘totally vindicated’

Despite Comey’s statement sounding like bad news for Trump, the US president said he felt “completely and totally vindicated.” His independent counsel said the testimony proved that Trump was not under investigation in any Russian probe.

Comey served as FBI director from 2013 until Trump fired him in May. He is scheduled to deliver his testimony on Thursday.