In a rare moment of levity during former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey said that he wished he had skipped a private dinner with President Donald Trump in order to keep a date with his wife.
Comey testified that Trump personally called him at the FBI to invite him to dinner on January 27 at the White House, a highly unusual request from a president to an FBI director.
“He called me at my desk at lunch time and asked me was I free for dinner,” Comey told Sen. Angus King. “I said, ‘sir, whatever works for you.'”
Comey added that after accepting Trump’s invitation for dinner that evening, he called his wife to cancel his dinner plans with her.
“I hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her — I was supposed to take her out to dinner that night,” he said.
King replied, “That’s one of the all-time great excuses for breaking a date,” to laughter from the audience.
Comey responded, jokingly, that he regretted accepting the invitation from the president.
“In retrospect, I love spending time with my wife, I wish I had been there that night,” Comey responded, to more laughter.
Comey noted, both at the hearing and in his prepared statement released by the Senate on Wednesday, that he was taken aback by the invitation and assumed there would be others at the meal, but it turned out to be just him and Trump dining in the Green Room at the White House.
In his written statement, Comey said that the president asked him whether he wanted to stay on as FBI director — a question that confused Comey because the president had asked him on two previous occassions to stay on.
“My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship,” Comey wrote.
Comey also said that Trump asked for his “loyalty” during the dinner and denied salacious allegations made about the president’s conduct during his trips to Russia.
Comey wrote that the dinner itself, and the conversations had during it, “concerned” him and made him “uneasy.”
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