Benjamin Wittes, principal source of yesterday’s NYT story about James Comey’s efforts to keep the FBI clear of Donald Trump’s bald attempts at influence, uses his Lawfare blog to share another anecdote from his friend Comey’s experience with the inept, inefficient, and sleazy Trump:
On March 27, he described one incident in particular that had bothered him. Comey was about to get on a helicopter when his phone rang. It was the White House saying that the President wanted to speak with him. Figuring there must be something urgent going on, he delayed his flight to take the call. To his surprise, the President just wanted to chitchat. He was trying to be social, Comey related; there was no agenda, much less an urgent one. Notably, since the President has claimed that Comey told him in two phone conversations that he was not under investigation, Comey said nothing to me about the subject coming up in this call. Indeed, he regarded the call as weird for how substanceless it was. What bothered Comey was twofold—the fact that the conversation happened at all (why was Trump calling him to exchange pleasantries?) and the fact that there was an undercurrent of Trump’s trying to get him to kiss the ring [Benjamin Wittes, “What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump,” Lawfare, 2017.05.18].
Neither the President of the United States nor the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have time for chitchat. That Trump would delay Comey with a substanceless call fits the pattern of management Trump has shown thus far, bereft of any purpose other than bolstering his own ego.