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The NY Times Michael Schmidt reports President Trump called James Comey "weeks after taking office" to ask when the FBI would state publicly that he was not personally under investigation, and Comey told Trump not to take such questions up with him.

Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a friend of James Comey's, also published an account of his conversations with Comey on Thursday. Wittes writes that Comey told him Trump had "asked for loyalty" soon after taking office and been "perceptibly uncomfortable" when Comey offered only honesty.

  • "Ever since, the President had been trying to be chummy in a fashion that Comey felt was designed to absorb him into Trump's world — to make him part of the team."

A wild anecdote: Per Wittes, Comey was hesitant to attend a White House reception in January. When he did go, he wore a dark blue suit and "tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room." Trump eventually spotted him, and called him over. "Comey said that as he was walking across the room he was determined that there wasn't going to be a hug," and it ended up as a "one-sided" embrace.

"Comey was disgusted. He regarded the episode as a physical attempt to show closeness and warmth in a fashion calculated to compromise him before Democrats who already mistrusted him."Comey also "expressed wariness" over Rod Rosenstein's nomination as Deputy Attorney General, telling Wittes: "Rod is a survivor. So I have some concerns." Wittes surmises that Comey was thinking Rosenstein, who later wrote the memo justifying Comey's ouster, must have been asked for a loyalty pledge.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 20,755,406 — Total deaths: 752,225— Total recoveries: 12,917,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 5,246,760 — Total deaths: 167,052 — Total recoveries: 1,774,648 — Total tests: 64,831,306Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats to investigate scientist leading "Operation Warp Speed" vaccine projectMcConnell announces Senate will not hold votes until Sept. 8 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. 2020: Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandateBiden and Harris to receive coronavirus briefings 4 times a week.
  5. States: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to drop lawsuit over Atlanta's mask mandate.
  6. Business: Why the CARES Act makes 2020 the best year for companies to lose money.
  7. Public health: Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments Cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable.

Trump says he intends to give RNC speech on White House lawn

President Trump speaking to reporters on South Lawn in July. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump told the New York Post on Thursday that he plans to deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House lawn, despite bipartisan criticism of the optics and legality of the location.

Why it matters: Previous presidents avoided blurring staged campaign-style events — like party conventions — with official business of governing on the White House premises, per Politico.

Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Antibody drugs and various medicine cocktails against the coronavirus are progressing and may provide some relief before vaccines.

The big picture: Everyone wants to know how and when they can return to "normal" life, as vaccines are not expected to be ready for most Americans for at least a year. Two therapies are known to be helpful, and more could be announced by late September, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.