The New York Times did something rare on Thursday night when they actually named a source in their latest article about President Trump and James Comey.
According to the NY Times, President Trump called FBI director, James Comey, weeks after he was sworn into office and asked when the FBI was going to put out word that Mr. Trump was not under investigation.
According to the NY Times article, Comey told the president that it was inappropriate for him to contact him directly if he wanted updates about FBI investigations, and that the president should adhere to proper procedures. He told the president to have the White House counsel send all inquiries to the Justice Department.
From that day forward, according to the Times article, Comey’s ongoing communications with the president made him feel “unsettled.” Allegedly, Comey shared his uneasy feelings with a friend, Benjamin Wittes.
The Times writes:
Mr. Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the editor in chief of the Lawfare blog and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, recalls a lunch he had with Mr. Comey in March at which Mr. Comey told him he had spent the first two months of Mr. Trump’s administration trying to preserve distance between the F.B.I. and the White House and educating it on the proper way to interact with the bureau.
Mr. Wittes said he never intended to publicly discuss his conversations with Mr. Comey. But after The New York Times reported earlier this month that shortly after his inauguration Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey for a loyalty pledge, Mr. Wittes said he saw Mr. Trump’s behavior in a “more menacing light” and decided to speak out.
Mr. Wittes said that Mr. Comey told him that despite Mr. Trump’s attempts to build a personal relationship, he did not want to be friendly with the president and thought any conversation with him or personal contact was inappropriate.
Their conversation took place after Mr. Comey’s phone call with the president, Mr. Wittes said, and Mr. Comey told him that his relationship with the president and the White House staff was now in the right place.
“‘I think we’ve kind of got them trained,’” Mr. Wittes said, paraphrasing what Mr. Comey told him.
But he said Mr. Comey had also described other encounters with the president that had troubled him.
One of those occurred at the White House on Jan. 22, just two days after Mr. Trump was sworn in. That day, Mr. Trump hosted a ceremony to honor law enforcement officials who had provided security for the inauguration.
Mr. Wittes said that Mr. Comey told him that he initially did not want to go to the meeting because the F.B.I. director should not have too close a relationship with the White House. But Mr. Comey went because he wanted to represent the bureau.
The ceremony occurred in the Blue Room of the White House, where many senior law enforcement officials — including the Secret Service director — had gathered. Mr. Comey — who is 6 feet 8 inches tall and was wearing a dark blue suit that day – told Mr. Wittes that he tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room, in the hopes that Mr. Trump would not spot him and call him out.
“He thought he had gotten through and not been noticed or singled out and that he was going to get away without an individual interaction,” Mr. Wittes said Mr. Comey told him.
But Mr. Trump spotted Mr. Comey and called him out.
“Oh and there’s Jim,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s become more famous than me.”
With an abashed look on his face, Mr. Comey walked up to Mr. Trump.
“Comey said that as he was walking across the room he was determined that there wasn’t going to be a hug,” Mr. Wittes said. “It was bad enough there was going to be a handshake. And Comey has long arms so Comey said he pre-emptively reached out for a handshake and grabbed the president’s hand. But Trump pulled him into an embrace and Comey didn’t reciprocate. If you look at the video, it’s one person shaking hands and another hugging.”
The New York Times outlines more encounters that made Comey uncomfortable, according to Wittes. You can read them on the NY Times website.
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