Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump, report says

Former FBI director James Comey prepared extensively for his discussions with President Donald Trump, out of concern that the president was unlikely to respect the legal and ethical boundaries governing their roles, the Washington Post reports, citing associates of the now-fired FBI chief.

The associates recounted how worried Comey was about meeting with Trump and recalled conversations in which they brainstormed how to handle moments when the president asked for details of an investigation.

According to the Post, one associate referred to Comey's preparation as a kind of "murder board" — a phrase used to describe a committee of questioners that hurl tough questions at someone as practice for a difficult oral examination.

The Post quoted one associate as saying Comey was insistent that he would have to find a way to politically not answer Trump's questions without inflaming the president.

'NO, NO. NEXT QUESTION':Trump denies telling Comey to back off Flynn investigation

Trump abruptly fired Comey last week, raising questions about whether he was attempting to interfere in the ongoing FBI probe into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian operatives seeking to meddle in last year's presidential election.

Comey was very apprehensive heading into a dinner with the president in late January, because of his previous encounters with Trump during the transition and immediately after the inauguration, the Post reported that one associate said. Comey felt like Trump either didn't understand or didn't like the FBI director's independence, and was trying to get Comey to bend the rules for him, the Post said the associate told it.

White House officials have disputed the accuracy of a memo Comey wrote describing what was said at the January dinner. In it, associates said, Comey recorded an effort by the president to get him to drop the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In his preparation for meeting Trump, Comey made clear to associates that he wanted to be responsive to the president's questions while declining to discuss sensitive subjects, said an associate, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, the Post reported.

The FBI declined to comment and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before going to the dinner, Comey practiced Trump's likely questions and his answers with a small group of his most trusted confidantes, the associates said, in part to ensure he didn't give Trump any ammunition to use against him later.

The director did not take notes during the dinner with the president, but there were times, one associate recalled, when after meeting with Trump, Comey started writing notes as soon as he got into a car to make sure he could accurately record what was said, according to the Post report.

The newspaper also reported that another associate said the notes of the January dinner conversation contained very nuanced quotes from the president, and a high level of detail.

James Comey, former director of the FBI, listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on May 3. [Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg]

James Comey, former director of the FBI, listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington on May 3. [Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg]

Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump, report says 05/18/17 [Last modified: Thursday, May 18, 2017 5:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Waiting for the eclipse: 'Everyone thinks this is cool'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Hunter Holland came to school Monday with a NASA space T-shirt and solar viewers in his button-up shirt pocket. But he'd rather be in Missouri.

    Jayda Hebert (front, center), 11, uses her protective glasses to watch Monday's solar eclipse with her cousin, Judah Adams (back left), 11, and her brother Jake Hebert (right), 9, while with their family at St. Petersburg Beach. "We're skipping school for the eclipse," her mom, Sarah Hebert, said. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  2. Second person resigns from Hillsborough diversity council after Confederate activist appointed

    Blogs

    TAMPA — A second person has resigned symbolically from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the appointment of a known activist of Confederate causes to the panel. 

    Two people have resigned from the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council after the inclusion of David McCallister, a leader of the local branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
  3. Everyone on Twitter is making this same eclipse joke

    Blogs

    Today's total solar eclipse is, of course, a social media event as much as it is a natural phenomenon. Twitter even rolled out an #eclipse hashtag that automatically adds an eclipse emoji.

    The solar eclipse is inspiring Twitter humor.
  4. Live video: See how the solar eclipse unfolded across the country

    Space

    Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

    The moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, in Washington on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. [Bill Ingalls | NASA via AP]
  5. Photo gallery: Stunning images of the 2017 solar eclipse

    Space

    Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

    The moon covers the sun during a total eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, near Redmond, Ore.  [Ted S. Warren | Associated Press]