- By ITV News Washington Producer Dominique Heckels
On Thursday, Former FBI director James Comey will testify in front of the Senate Intelligence committee in relation to the Russia probe.
The last time he appeared before the senate, he was shortly fired by US President Trump.
How did we get here?
- May: FBI Director, James Comey confirms the FBI is conducting an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
- July: Comey releases a statement saying the FBI will not recommend charges against Clinton.
- October: Days before the United States election,Comey announced the FBI would be re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s emails.
- November: Trump wins the presidential election.
- January: Trump invites Comey to the White House for dinner and asks him to pledge his loyalty. Comey reportedly tells Trump he is not under investigation.
- February 13: Mike Flynn resigns as Trump's National Security Advisor after it surfaces he was dishonest to the administration about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
- February 14: Trump meets with Comey and asks him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn as he’s a “good guy”,according to the New York Times.
- April: Rod Rosenstein is confirmed as Deputy Attorney General.
- May 3: Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that the re-opening of the Clinton investigation, makes him “mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election."
- It soon transpires that Comey’s testimony was inaccurate in his report that Clinton's advisor forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails to her husband, when it was only a small number.
- May 9: Trump fires FBI Director James Comey. In the letter announcing his termination, Trump writes: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
- That evening, the White House say Trump fired Comey under deputy attorney Rod Rosenstein’s and attorney-General Jeff Sessions recommendations. In a letter to Trump, Rosenstein noted Comey's handling of the Clinton emails "is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do."
- May 10: Trump meets with the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador to the United States in the Oval Office. The New York Times reports that during this meeting Trump called Comey a “nut-job” and firing him had taken the pressure off.
- May 11: In an interview with NBC News, Trump says he was going to fire Comey regardless of advice from Sessions and Rosenstein,“because he was not doing a good job.” Trump also reveals that he was told by Comey on three occasions he wasn’t under investigation.
- May 11: Trump writes on Twitter: “Russia must be laughing up their sleeves watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election.”
- May 17: Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and potential ties with the Trump campaign. Trumps says he respects the decision but it is a “witch-hunt”.
- May 25: Multiple reports that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, is under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation.
- May 26: Washington Post reports that Jared Kushner proposed a secret communication channel with the Kremlin.
Why is Comey’s testimony so key?
There are questions we all want, and need, answers to:
- Did President Trump ask Comey to curb the FBI’s investigation into Russia and the United States 2016 election? If so, this could be an obstruction of justice by President Trump.
- Did Comey tell President Trump he was not under investigation, three times? Are there tapes of that meeting? If so, why would Trump need to know this? Has there been a conflict of interests?
- Did Comey find any evidence that Trump or his advisers have colluded with Russia?
On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate released a preview of Comey’s opening testimony. It was juicy.
According to Comey, who spoke to Trump on 9 occasions (as opposed to the two times he spoke to Obama whilst under his administration) here’s what stands out in terms of what President Trump said to him:
- Over dinner in January: "I want loyalty, I expect loyalty."
- In February: "I want to talk about Mike Flynn. ... 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."
- In March: “lift the cloud”
Get your popcorn ready, Comey’s testimony on Thursday will certainly be blockbuster-esque.