Author: John Sexton
The NY Times published a piece Thursday afternoon stating that FBI Director Comey wrote “detailed memos” about all of his interactions with the President and the White House. The piece doesn’t quantify or describe the contents of those other memos but does attempt to add additional context to the relationship between President Trump and Comey. The gist of the story is that Comey believed Trump was trying to win him over through personal outreach, but according to Comey’s friend who heard the story contemporaneously, the FBI Director immediately pushed back and insisted communication should be handled through officials channels:
President Trump called the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, weeks after he took office and asked him when federal authorities were going to put out word that Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation, according to two people briefed on the call.
Mr. Comey told the president that if he wanted to know details about the bureau’s investigations, he should not contact him directly but instead follow the proper procedures and have the White House counsel send any inquires to the Justice Department, according to those people…
Mr. Comey described all of his encounters with the president and the White House — including the phone call from Mr. Trump — in detailed memos he wrote at the time and gave to his aides.
Unlike previous stories involving Comey, this one does not come from an anonymous source. Comey’s friend, Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution, tells the Times he had lunch with Comey in March. During that lunch, Comey described his efforts to keep the President and the White House at arm’s length. Mr. Wittes summarizes his lunch with Comey this way: “He had to throw some brushback pitches to the administration.” As late as March Wittes says, “Trump was still trying to get [Comey] on board.”
The article suggests Trump’s loyalty request and the plea to drop the Flynn investigation were not one-off moments but were part of a longer effort by the President to win Comey over. Wittes says he didn’t intend to ever discuss the private conversation he had with Comey but changed his mind after learning about Trump’s request for loyalty during a private dinner in January.
There is all sorts of speculation floating around about Comey’s memo, including the possibility it doesn’t exist at all. I’m with Ed on this one. The memo(s) fit with Comey’s known pattern of behavior. He keeps written records of conversations he’s involved with. I think anyone who doubts these memos exist is whistling past the graveyard at this point. We’ll know soon enough as any investigation on a number of topics will involve these memos.
It’s also possible that Comey wasn’t the only person keeping a record of those conversations. Trump indicated on Twitter that it was possible he had audio tapes of conversations involving Comey. If so, that would certainly trump Comey’s recollection written down after the fact. And if it turns out Comey’s recollection wasn’t entirely accurate, that could hurt his case.
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