Former FBI Director James Comey's testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee won't begin until tomorrow morning, but he's submitted his opening statement to the panel -- which will be delivered under oath -- and it's been published online for public review, reportedly at Comey's request.
And it's quite a read. In his sworn statement, Comey will offer details surrounding several interactions he's had with Donald Trump, both before his presidential inauguration and after, some of which will reinforce concerns that the president obstructed justice by applying pressure on the FBI director during an ongoing investigation.
Consider, for example, the private dinner Trump had with Comey the week after the presidential inauguration:
"The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.
"My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI's traditionally independent status in the executive branch.
"I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not 'reliable' in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody's side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.
"A few moments later, the President said, 'I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.' I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner."
The fact that the president tried to connect loyalty to Comey's continued employment is obviously problematic.
At the same dinner, Trump later returned to the same subject, again telling Comey, "I need loyalty." When the FBI director said the president could always count on him to be honest, Trump said, "That's what I want, honest loyalty."
Three weeks later, Trump had another one-on-one conversation with Comey, which was even more egregious.