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Questions Comey Will Likely Face Before Senate Panel

  • VOA News

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 20, 2017.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired nearly a month ago by President Donald Trump, will testify Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian meddling in last year’s U.S. election, as well as any ties between Moscow and Trump’s inner circle.

It will be Comey's first public appearance since Trump abruptly dismissed him on May 9.

When Trump fired him, Comey was leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe of Russian interference into last year's presidential campaign and possible collusion between Trump campaign aides and Russian interests aimed at helping Trump defeat his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The president later called Comey “a showboat” and “a grandstander.”

Within days of Comey's firing, his associates said the former FBI chief kept detailed notes of his White House meetings with Trump.

Comey's hearing before the Senate committee is scheduled for 10 a.m. EDT (1400 UTC) Thursday.

Asked about Comey's upcoming testimony, Trump said Tuesday, "I wish him luck."

The president has "a full day on Thursday," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday, adding Trump has meetings and a speech on his schedule.

Here are some questions that will likely be asked of the former FBI head:

1. Did President Trump seek a pledge of loyalty from Comey?

According to media reports, sources close to Comey said Trump asked the FBI chief to pledge his loyalty to the president during a dinner at the White House.

In an interview with NBC News, Trump gave a different account of the dinner. The president said Comey requested the meeting because the FBI director wanted to keep his job. The president did not mention a loyalty pledge request.

2. Did Trump urge Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn?

According to news reports, Comey informed members of his inner circle that Trump said he hoped Comey would drop the probe into Flynn and his contacts with Russian operatives.

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," the Times reported Trump told the director after privately taking him in the Oval Office. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

3. Does Comey think Trump's actions were an attempt to obstruct the ongoing Russia investigations?

Comey is unlikely to give a definitive answer. He is expected to stick to describing events and let others analyze their legal implications.

4. Did Comey tell Trump several times that the president was not under investigation?

In a letter informing Comey of his dismissal from the FBI, Trump wrote, "I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation" regarding Russia.

5. Can Comey provide any evidence of collusion between Trump's inner circle and Russian officials?

Whether or not anyone in Trump's inner circle secretly cooperated with Russia in its plot to damage Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign is a focus of Congressional and federal probes. Comey is unlikely to provide any definitive answers.

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