— -- Associates of fired FBI Director James Comey believe that his first comments on his termination will likely come in an open session before Congress, ABC News has learned.
He declined an invitation to speak to a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and was replaced on a panel testifying before that committee last Thursday by his temporary replacement, Andrew McCabe.
Comey's associates say that he is not seeking publicity and that they believe an open session before Congress is the most appropriate setting. He would not be commenting on specifics of the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and would likely discuss issues about his record.
One associate describes Comey as being uncomfortable with a January dinner with President Donald Trump, in which Trump is reported to have asked Comey for his loyalty — which Trump has flatly denied.
Sources with knowledge of the situation emphasized that they do not believe Comey would have spoken about the Russia probe with Trump under any circumstances. It was something he discussed only with key Justice Department officials, the sources said. In the letter from Trump notifying Comey of his dismissal, the president said he was notified by the director on three occasions that he was not personally under investigation.
Associates of Comey offered praise for his integrity and honor and disagreed with the notion he was unpopular in the bureau, as the White House has said.
Those close to Comey describe him as doing fine after the jarring week. On Saturday he attended a performance of the musical "Fun Home" at the National Theater in Washington, D.C. — his first public appearance since his termination.
He is said to be concerned with the prospects of many of the initiatives he was pursuing at the bureau but believes FBI agents and personnel will continue to conduct themselves with professionalism.