May 19, 2017

Comey was troubled by Trump, friend says

AP

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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Why it matters: It's a boost for Biden, who's widely tipped to be endorsed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday, ahead of this week's South Carolina primary.

By the numbers: With almost 88% of precincts reporting, Biden has 20.9% of the Nevada votes and Buttigieg has 13.6%.

Flashback: Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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The Trump White House and its allies, over the past 18 months, assembled detailed lists of disloyal government officials to oust — and trusted pro-Trump people to replace them — according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the effort who spoke to Axios.

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