Comey: DOJ official reacted to Trump exoneration requests saying 'God, I was hoping that would go away'

Former FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers that then-Acting Attorney General Dana Boente responded to President Trump's requests for a Justice Department statement that he was not under investigation in early 2017 by saying "in substance, 'Oh, God, I was hoping that would go away,'" according to a transcript released Tuesday.

Comey was responding to questions from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who noted that Comey repeatedly "referenced the fact that you are not investigating the president" in memos that formed the basis of his recently published book, "A Higher Loyalty."

"The president is pretty clear he would love for you to have made that information public, told the American people that the president, their president, the guy they elected, wasn't under investigation," Jordan said during Monday's hearing. "Why didn't you do that? Why wouldn't you just tell the American people he is not under investigation?"

Comey answered that he would not have made such a statement "without the approval and direction of the leadership of the Department of Justice" and added that "saying that publicly had significant consequences, both in terms of creating a duty to correct and potentially being misleading."

According to Comey, Trump initially made his request for an exculpatory statement in a phone call on March 30, 2017.

"I relayed his request to the Acting Attorney General [Boente]," Comey said. "I didn't hear back."

Comey said Trump restated his request in a phone call less than two weeks later.

"[The president] says, 'What did you do with what I had asked?'" Comey told lawmakers. "I told him I had given it to the Acting Attorney General. And we had a conversation where he said he understood the way to proceed."

After the call, Comey said his chief of staff called Boente and said: "The president just called. Wants to know what happened with that thing."

"And Mr. Boente's reaction was, in substance, 'Oh, God, I was hoping that would go away.'" Comey concluded.

Comey added that the matter did not come up again before Trump fired him on May 9 of that year.

Monday's interview of Comey was the second of two closed-door encounters ten days apart between the former FBI chief and the Republican-led House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees. The panels are wrapping up a year-long investigation of the Justice Department's actions before and after the 2016 presidential election.