Trump kept pushing Comey for information on Russia investigation, kept wanting loyalty: report

Trump tried to pull Comey in — and Comey tried to keep him at a distance, according to a new report

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 19, 2017 7:41AM (EDT)

James Comey, Donald J. Trump (Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Mark Wilson)
James Comey, Donald J. Trump (Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Mark Wilson)

A new report sheds further light on the efforts made by former FBI Director James Comey to keep himself at a distance from President Donald Trump.

Two days after Trump became president, Comey attended a ceremony that Trump hosted honoring law enforcement officials and tried to blend in with the curtains to avoid being noticed by the president, according to a report by The New York Times. When Trump spotted Comey anyway, the FBI director extended his hand so that they would only have a handshake, but the president pulled him in for a hug anyway.

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This was only one of many interactions with Trump that reports now indicate made Comey uncomfortable. Trump is reported to have called Comey to ask when the FBI would state that Trump wasn't personally under investigation, prompting Comey to ask Trump to not speak directly with him on the subject but send his inquiry through the proper channels. There was also the now-infamous dinner in which Trump asked Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn, which the FBI Director refused to do.

Brookings Institute senior fellow Benjamin Wittes, who is a friend of James Comey, has publicly detailed an incident that Comey relayed to him which Wittes finds disturbing. When Comey was about to board a helicopter, he received a call from the White House saying that "the president needs to talk to you urgently." Upon taking the call, Comey realized that Trump merely wanted to have casual conversation, which Comey perceived as an effort by Trump to get the FBI Director to be more loyal to the president.


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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