President Trump’s personal lawyer on Thursday flatly denied former FBI director James B. Comey’s assertion that Trump asked him for “loyalty” and accused Comey of improperly leaking “privileged communications” with the president.
In a statement after Comey’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, attorney Marc Kasowitz also asserted that Trump never directed Comey “in form or substance” to stop the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials, and he said Comey’s testimony confirmed that Trump “was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference” in the 2016 election.
Kasowitz took exception with Comey’s written opening statement in which he said that Trump asked for his loyalty during a private, one-on-one dinner at the White House in January. In a memo he wrote after the meeting, Comey quoted Trump as saying: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.”
But Kasowitz said Trump never said that.
“The President also never told Mr. Comey, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty’ in form or substance,” Kasowitz said in a written statement, a version of which he read aloud to reporters at the National Press Club. “Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”
Comey, who was fired by Trump last month, told senators that he arranged to have the memos he recorded of his private conversations with the president released by a friend to a news reporter to put pressure on the FBI to appoint a special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.
“Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President,” Kasowitz said.
Kasowitz did not dispute parts of Comey’s testimony, including that he had told Trump three times that the president was not personally under investigation in the Russia probe. The lawyer also did not take issue with Comey’s testimony that Trump told him “it would be good to find out” if “some ‘satellite’ associates” acted improperly during the campaign. Intelligence officials have said Russia operatives stole private information from Democrats and released it publicly to embarrass presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and aid Trump.
Trump “feels completely vindicated” and is “eager to move forward with this cloud . . . lifted,” Kasowitz said.
But Kasowitz denied Comey’s contention that Trump sought to pressure Comey to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned under pressure in February after reports that he had misled administration officials over his contacts with Russian officials.
“The President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that Mr. Comey ‘let Flynn go,’ ” Kasowitz said. “As he publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, ‘General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot’ and also ‘asked how is General Flynn is doing.’ ”
Kasowitz did not answer questions from reporters after finishing his statement. Trump has not remarked publicly on Comey’s testimony.