After James Comey was abruptly fired last month, leaks started trickling out about conversations the former FBI director had with President Trump — conversations that Comey felt compelled to document with detailed memos. Now Comey has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee to explain why he took such precautions: “I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting.”
The meeting in question was a private White House dinner shortly after the inauguration, at which President Donald Trump apparently asked Comey for his “loyalty.” Comey responded that he could only offer his “honesty.” A New York Times story on the conversation reported that the President continued to press Comey for a pledge of loyalty, and that in the end the two had to compromise on a promise of “honest loyalty.”
After Comey was fired in May, Trump took to Twitter to threaten the former FBI director with supposed tapes of their conversations.
Speculation has swirled ever since about what happened during these talks. Now Comey has explained why he took such careful notes:
A combination of things. I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with. The circumstances, first I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president. The subject matter, I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility and that relate to the president-elect personally. And then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting and so I thought it really important to document. That combination of things I never experienced before but it led me to believe I got to write it down and write it down in a very detailed way.
That’s right — the former director of the FBI just flat out said that he associates the character of the President of the United States with dishonesty. Perhaps those comparisons that James Clapper made between the Russia probe and Watergate aren’t so far-fetched.