Sen. Ron Wyden has been waiting all year for this.
Since January, Oregon's senior senator has sought answers about what the FBI is doing to investigate President Donald Trump's connections to Russia. When Trump fired FBI director James Comey in April, Wyden turned up the volume on his demand for open hearings to ask questions about what Trump might be trying to hide.
Today, Comey testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, saying that Trump lied about the reasons for his firing and in private meetings tried to smother the investigation into his national security advisor, Michael Flynn.
For seven minutes, Wyden got to ask Comey questions—and walked him through a damning trail of evidence that raised the possibility Trump tried to obstruct justice.
"Yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong," Wyden began. "All in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty and denied allegations against him."
Here's the video of Wyden's exchanges with Comey.
Below is a transcript of Wyden's full questioning of Comey.
Sen. Ron Wyden: Mr. Comey, welcome. You and I have had significant policy differences over the years—particularly, protecting American's access to secure encryption. But I believe the timing of your firing stinks. And yesterday you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. Now to my questions. In talking to Senator [Mark] Warner [of Virginia] about this dinner that you had with the President, I believe January 27th: All in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty and denied allegations against him. All took place over one supper. Now, you told Senator Warner that the president was looking to, quote, get something. Looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation?
Former FBI Director James Comey: I don't know that I'd go that far. I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty. But I don't know whether I'd go so far as to connect it to the investigation.
Wyden: [You] said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage relationship. In a patronage relationship, isn't the underling expected to behave in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss?
Comey: Yes. Or at least consider how what you're doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration.
Wyden: Let me turn to the attorney general. In your statement, you said that you and the FBI leadership team decided not to discuss the president's actions with Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions, even though he had not recused himself. What was it about the attorney general's own interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?
Comey: Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic. So we were convinced — in fact, I think we'd already heard the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. That turned out to be the case.
Wyden: How would you characterize Attorney General Sessions' adherence to his recusal? In particular, with regard to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged was because of the Russian investigation?
Comey: That's a question I can't answer. I think it is a reasonable question. If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? I don't know. So I don't have an answer for the question.
Wyden: Your testimony was that the president's request about Flynn could infect the investigation. Had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the effect on the investigation?
Comey: We would have closed any investigation of General Flynn in connection with his statements and encounters — statements about encounters with Russians in the late part of December. So we would have dropped an open criminal investigation.
Wyden: So in effect, when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the American people to get the facts?
Comey: Correct. And as good as our people are, our judgment was, we don't want them hearing that the president of the United States wants this to go away because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair, impartial and aggressive.
Wyden: Now, Acting Attorney General Yates found out Mike Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians and she went immediately to warn the White House. Flynn is gone, but other individuals with contact with the Russians are still in extremely important positions of power. Should the American people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them?
Comey: I think all I can say, senator, is the special counsel's investigation is very important. Understanding what efforts there were or are by Russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the FBI's mission. And you've got the right person in Bob Mueller to lead it, so it is a very important piece of work.
Wyden: Vice President Pence was the head of the transition. To your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn prior to or during General Flynn's tenure as national security adviser?
Comey: You're asking, including up to the time when Flynn was forced to resign? My understanding is that he was. I'm trying to remember where I get that understanding from. I think from Acting Attorney General [Sally] Yates.
Wyden: So former Acting Attorney General Yates testified concerns about General Flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. Would that have included anyone at the CIA or Dan Coats' office, the DNI?
Comey: I would assume, yes.
Wyden: Michael Flynn resigned four days after Attorney General Sessions was sworn in. Do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn during that period?
Comey: I don't as I sit here. I don't recall that he was. I could be wrong, but I don't remember that he was.
Wyden: And finally, let's see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. Besides the letter from the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or been involved in your firing?
Comey: I don't. I don't.
Wyden: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.