On Wednesday, former FBI director James Comey released the opening statement he will read while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. It’s full of reports of strange one-on-one interactions between himself and President Donald Trump: Here are the most bizarre moments.
5. An Awkward Silence and Intense Stare
On January 27, President Trump invited Comey to a private dinner and surprised him by declaring, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Comey responded by just staring at him: “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence.”
3. Anxiety About Russian Hookers
Back in January, an unverified report claimed that Trump had hired Russian prostitutes to urinate on his hotel bed in 2013. Apparently Trump was still obsessing about this rumor three months later, even though it had left the media conversation long before: On March 30, Trump called Comey and insisted that he “had not been involved with hookers in Russia.”
2. A Weird, Prolonged Cloud Metaphor
During that same March 30 phone call, Trump “described the Russia investigation as ‘a cloud’ that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country.” While the metaphor is a bit melodramatic, the funniest part about it is that Trump apparently took a huge liking to it: He used it again and again in subsequent communications with Comey, eventually just referring to the investigation as “the cloud.”
2. Comey Misses Trump’s Inside Reference
During a phone call on April 11, Trump made some sort of private reference that Comey did not understand. “‘I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know,’” he said. Comey writes in his remarks, “I did not reply or ask him what he meant by ‘that thing.’” Man, it hurts when someone misses your bid for friendship — or in this case, totally inappropriate allegiance.
1. Attempting to Influence the Flynn Investigation
In the statement, Comey corroborates his memo that leaked to The New York Times on May 16: He writes that Trump asked him to drop the investigation on former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, stating, “I hope you can let this go.” Trump denied saying this during a May 18 news conference, which makes Comey’s statement — which he will deliver under oath — potentially damning, in terms of catching Trump in a lie.
Every interaction Comey described between himself and Trump was loaded and awkward; no wonder he “implore[d]” Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the president from communicating with him directly.