By Jessica Taylor | NPR
Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday morning. The crux of his highly-anticipated remarks was released by the Senate panel Wednesday — and it only confirmed the hype around his appearance while detailing the extent to which President Trump pressed him about the Russia investigation.
In his opening statement, Comey will testify that Trump did ask him for a "loyalty" pledge and later asked him to scuttle the agency's investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The president has denied both those accusations.
The preview of Comey's testimony shows that the former FBI chief — fired by Trump last month, in part, because of the growing Russia probe — will spare no detail in his answers to senators. And the prepared opening statement also confirms the many bombshell reports over the past few months about the private conversations he had with Trump, many of them unprecedented and possibly inappropriate.
Republicans have already seized on one section of Comey's testimony as vindication. The former FBI director does detail how he did tell Trump on three separate occasions that he was not himself under investigation — a surprising assertion Trump put in his termination letter to Comey.
But there are plenty of other damning allegations Comey will testify about that senators will surely press him on, including his awkward solo dinner with Trump where the president pressed him for loyalty and his lone Oval Office conversation with the president the day after Flynn was fired.
The opening remarks also only detail five of his nine encounters with Trump, and he is sure to be pressed on what happened in those remaining conversations he had with the president.
It's unclear how the White House will respond to Comey's testimony, but it could come from the president himself in real-time tweets. President Trump is expected to watch the Comey hearing with his outside lawyer Marc Kasowitz and legal team, a person close to the legal team tells NPR's Mara Liasson.