Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate on Thursday, and his opening remarks have been released — and they're a doozy. In part, Comey details the uncomfortable task of telling Trump, when he was still president-elect, about the existence of "salacious and unverified" material that was "personally sensitive."
Comey explains that among the reasons for telling Trump about this information was that "we knew the media was about to publicly report the material." It appears Comey was referring to the content of an unverified dossier, which, among other allegations, claimed that Trump's "conduct in Moscow … included perverted sexual acts which have been arranged/monitored by the [Russian security agency] FSB."
After the inauguration, Comey again saw Trump, this time for dinner on Jan. 27. At the dinner, Trump apparently brought up the allegations:
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. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn't happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren't, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it. [James Comey, via Senate Intelligence Committee]
Think about it he did. On March 30, Trump called Comey about the material again:
On the morning of March 30, the president called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as "a cloud" that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. 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." [James Comey, via Senate Intelligence Committee]
Comey's testimony begins at 10 a.m. ET Thursday. Read his entire introductory statement here.