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Why Comey documented his talks with Trump, not Obama

After his first meeting with Trump on Jan. 6, Comey said he “felt compelled to document my first conversation” with him in a memo, the former FBI director testified publicly for the first time before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill.

Comey said this was not just the normal habit of a careful former federal prosecutor, noting he never felt obligated to do this during the three and a half years he served as FBI director under President Barack Obama, who nominated him in 2013.

“This had not been my practice in the past,” Comey said. “I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person, and never on the phone. Once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions.”

Comey did not specify the subject of that 2015 meeting, but it appeared to be a discussion arranged after the FBI director and White House split over criminal justice issues. Comey had spoken publicly about the so-called “Ferguson effect,” which suggested that heightened scrutiny on police was leading to an increase in crime, and the White House pushed back on that theory.

According to Comey, after briefing Trump on the details of a salacious dossier claiming the Russians had compromising information on him, the FBI director was compelled to document their meeting for reasons he did not specify in his prepared statement.

“I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting,” Comey said. “Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward.”

James Comey testimony: Updates and reaction

Former FBI director James B. Comey is set to testify today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.; a closed hearing is to start at 1 p.m.

Comey’s testimony was previewed on Wednesday in written remarks in which he describes President Trump’s demand of loyalty and the investigations.