Ahead of James Comey's testimony before Senate on June 8, House Speaker Paul Ryan addressed a claim that President Donald Trump asked the former FBI director for his loyalty, saying that it was "obviously" not appropriate for the president to ask.
According to Comey's opening statement, which came out a day prior to his testimony, he met with the president for dinner, where Trump told him: "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," according to Uproxx.
Comey said that request led to awkward silence. "You will always get honesty from me," Comey eventually responded, going on to say that he would give him "honest loyalty."
When asked whether Trump's request was appropriate, considering that the FBI is independent from the White House, Ryan responded that he did not think Trump should have asked for loyalty.
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"Obviously, I don't think that it is. Director Comey will probably get a lot of questions about that tomorrow, would be my guess. But I don't think that that's new, that's already been reported," Ryan said. "I think that was something that was in The New York Times, gosh, a month or two ago... it's not different in substance [than with anonymous sources], but it's different in that we're hearing it straight from the director himself."
"And yes, FBI directors are supposed to be independent," Ryan added. "That's something that’s very, very critical."
According to Comey's opening statement, he spoke with President Trump one-on-one nine times during a short period, and felt the need to record what had happened after each interaction. When Barack Obama was president, Comey said he had only spoken with him two times, with one of those times being to say goodbye when Obama was leaving office.
In his testimony, Comey said that the White House "lied" about his firing, NBC News reported.
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The former FBI director said that he was "confused" and "concerned" when the president told him that he was being fired for undermining the FBI's morale.
"Those were lies, plain and simple," said Comey, adding that the administration "chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader."
He also said that he was sure that he had been fired because of the "Russia investigation" into whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the results of the 2016 presidential election.
When he was asked about Trump's tweet that Comey had "better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations," Comey responded, "Lordy, I hope there are tapes."