California Journal: Any working woman could have told James Comey what would happen when he spurned President Trump

President Trump greets FBI Director James Comey at the White House in January. At left are Vice President Mike Pence and Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy.
(Alex Brandon / AP)

Is there a working woman alive who cannot identify with poor James Comey right now?

The former FBI director’s boss tried to seduce him. When the seduction failed, his boss fired him.

And then called him “crazy, a real nut job.”

Hell hath no fury like a scorned President Trump.

When you are the kingpin of a family business, used to a world in which no one questions or challenges you, where you can grab anyone in the … well, you know, it’s no wonder you see the world as divided into two sorts of people: you, and the subordinates who are here to meet your every need.

Comey’s first private encounter with President-elect Trump came shortly before the inauguration. According to a copy of the testimony Comey is to give Thursday to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the FBI director asked if he might have some alone time with Trump. He wanted to warn the incoming president about a “salacious and unverified” intelligence report involving Trump, Russian hookers and bizarre sexual behavior, which Trump adamantly denied.


How surprised Comey must have been when Trump thought their tete-a-tete meant they had created some sort of special bond — “that thing,” as the president would later describe it. Comey, by contrast, was discomfited enough by the president that he decided to document their conversation in a memo “the moment I walked out of the meeting.”

Three weeks later, Comey reluctantly attended a White House ceremony honoring law enforcement officials who had worked during the inauguration. He didn’t want to be anywhere near the president; the FBI is supposed to have limited contact with the White House.

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So, like Scarlett O’Hara, he wore a suit that looked like blue curtains and tried to camouflage himself by standing next to a window. Unfortunately, when you are 6-foot-8, it’s hard to hide.

The president spotted him and called Comey across the room. The director, determined to minimize physical contact, held out his long, long arm for a handshake. The president tried to yank him into a hug. What resulted was the don’t-hug-me-handshake, a hybrid greeting familiar to any woman trying to fend off unwanted touching by an alpha male.

Like so many clueless pursuers, Trump could not take a hint. On Jan. 27, an unbidden invitation arrived from the White House. Dinner tonight, Mr. Comey?


“It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room,” he wrote. “Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.”

At least the president didn’t excuse himself to slip into something more comfortable. He did, however, ask Comey if he wanted to keep his job. Of course, Comey replied, puzzled because he’d already told the president twice he planned to finish his 10-year term.

“I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” the president told him.

“I didn’t move, speak or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” wrote Comey. “We simply looked at each other in silence.”

Awkward for Comey perhaps, but enflaming for his dining partner.

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Their next meeting (not making this up) was on Valentine’s Day. After a counter-terrorism briefing in the Oval Office, the president asked everyone to clear out. Except for Comey. He wanted to be with alone with his FBI bro.

The president wanted to talk about the investigation of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who had resigned amid allegations that he’d concealed meetings with Russian officials. “I hope you can let this go,” the president told Comey.


Comey knew he should have gone straight to his boss, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. But he was stuck. He couldn’t tell Sessions, Comey decided. That might compromise the Flynn investigation.

Anyway, he reasoned, who would believe him? It was a he said/he said situation, “a one-on-one conversation,” he wrote. “There was nothing available to corroborate my account.”

The sexually harassed women of America feel your pain, Director Comey.

Trump thought he had some kind of bromance going with Comey. He wined him. He dined him. And because he is transactional to his core, he expected a little somethin’ somethin’ in return.

As it happens, he is getting a little somethin’ in return. It’s just not exactly what he had in mind.

Twitter: @AbcarianLAT



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