- Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images
- Former FBI Director James Comey has expanded on his account of a now-infamous dinner during which President Donald Trump.
- At the private meeting in January 2017, Comey says Trump seemed to demand his loyalty and threaten to fire him.
- According to Comey, Trump seemed to think he had the upper hand in the relationship, and set up a private dinner to demand Comey’s loyalty.
- Elsewhere Comey has compared Trump’s behavior to that of mob bosses.
Former FBI Director James Comey has expanded on his account of a now-infamous dinner with President Donald Trump in which the president seemed to demand his loyalty and threaten to fire him.
Investigators came to regard this encounter as a possible act of obstruction of justice to stifle the Russia investigation.
One week after Trump’s inauguration, Comey says the two had a dinner where Trump dangled the prospect of firing him, and pressed him to establish a “patronage relationship.”
Comey has elsewhere compared to the operations of mob families, which he spent much of his career studying and prosecuting.
“He said lots of people wanted to be director of the FBI, but that he thought very highly of me. He said he had heard great things about me and knew the people of the FBI thought very highly of me as well,” said Comey, according to an exclusive excerpt published by the news site Axios.
Trump said he “would understand if I wanted to ‘walk away’ given all I had been through,” said Comey, referring to his decision to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email during the 2016 election.
Trump apparently alternated between veiled threats to replace Comey, and attempts to convince him to stay
Comey says Trump told him it would “be bad for me personally” if he left the FBI after the Clinton controversy “because it would look like I had done something wrong.”
Comey wrote that Trump again said he could “‘make a change at FBI’ if he wanted to, but that he wanted to know what I thought.”
“Now it was pretty clear to me what was happening. The setup of the dinner, both the physical layout of a private meal and Trump’s pretense that he had not already asked me to stay on multiple occasions, convinced me this was an effort to establish a patronage relationship,” wrote Comey.
In early 2017, with both Republicans worried about the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s campaign’s possible collusion with Russia during the election, and Democrats still fuming about losing an election where Comey proved a key and damaging figure, Comey wrote that Trump thought he had the upper hand.
“Somebody probably had told him, or maybe it just occurred to him at random, that he’d ‘given’ me the job for ‘free’ and that he needed to get something in return,” wrote Comey in the excerpt from Axios.
“This only added to the strangeness of the experience. The president of the United States had invited me to dinner and decided my job security was on the menu.”