James Comey’s testimony — Christie says ‘loyalty’ talk was just a ‘NYC conversation’ (WATCH TESTIMONY LIVE)
NEW YORK — Gov. Chris Christie is defending President Trump against FBI Director James Comey's allegation the president asked for his "loyalty."
The allegation was in the prepared remarks Comey plans to read when he testifies before the United States Senate at 10 a.m. Thursday, as part of the Senate's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
"What people don't understand is that they elected an outsider president," Christie told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace. "They elected someone who has never been inside government and quite frankly didn't spend a lot of time interacting with government except at the local level. The idea of the way the tradition of these agencies is not something he's ever been steeped in."
He said that Trump is "publicly learning about the way people react to what he considers normal New York City conversation."
In a hugely anticipated hearing, Comey will recount a series of conversations with Trump that he says made him deeply uneasy and concerned about the blurring of boundaries between the White House and a law enforcement agency that prides itself on independence.
The testimony, Comey's first public statements since Trump fired him on May 9, is likely to bring hours of uncomfortable attention to an administration shadowed for months by an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Comey's account of demands for loyalty from the president, and of requests to end an investigation into an embattled Trump administration official, are likely to sharpen allegations that Trump improperly sought to influence the FBI-led probe.
Comey's detailed and vivid recollections of his one-on-one conversations with Trump were revealed in seven pages of prepared testimony released Wednesday, the day before his appearance before the Senate intelligence committee.
He'll testify under oath that Trump repeatedly pressed him for his "loyalty" and directly pushed him to "lift the cloud" of investigation by declaring publicly the president was not the target of the probe into his campaign's Russia ties.
The remarks paint a picture of an FBI director so disconcerted by his interactions with the president that he began keeping written memos of their private discussions, including one he hastened to type out in an FBI vehicle immediately after a Trump Tower meeting.
Christie, who said he respects Comey, said he wants to hear what he has to say first in his testimony.
"I'm not going to presume anybody is lying. And quite frankly, in these kind of conversations everybody hears what they want to hear," Christie said.
The governor said in his time running Trump's transition team, they never discussed coming up for suggestions for a new director.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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