NYT released a report yesterday detailing James Comey’s apparent deep apprehension regarding Donald Trump. Only a few weeks into his fledgling presidency, Trump called Comey to press for more information on whether Trump was personally under investigation. Comey instead explained to Trump the way proper procedures worked, and he suggested Trump ask his White House counsel to send inquiries to the Justice Department.
Of course, these sorts of inappropriate actions continued, culminating in a dinner where Trump requested Comey pledge his loyalty to the President. Evidently Trump was under the assumption the White House worked similarly to 1100s feudal England. Comey refused and was later fired by the President.
But buried in this report is an indication that Comey was attempting to keep his distance from the president since the beginning. Two days after Trump took office, he hosted a ceremony honoring law enforcement officials that had provided security for the largest inauguration ceremony in the history of the planet. Comey did not want to attend the event, as he wished to keep his distance from the President—believing impartiality essential to his role as F.B.I. director—but felt compelled to be present as a representative of the bureau.
Comey was apparently willing to do almost anything to avoid meeting Trump, including donning a sort of disguise:
The ceremony occurred in the Blue Room of the White House, where many senior law enforcement officials — including the Secret Service director — had gathered. Mr. Comey—who is 6 feet 8 inches tall and was wearing a dark blue suit that day—told Mr. Wittes that he tried to blend in with the blue curtains in the back of the room, in the hopes that Mr. Trump would not spot him and call him out.
Evidently, Comey believes himself a “Milford Man,” much like Arrested Development’s Buster Bluth.
Of course, Trump did still manage to spot Comey despite the impeccable disguise, and went out of his way to meet the director and shake his hand. Trump even managed to envelop the man in an awkward embrace, despite Comey once again employing shifty tactics to avoid the impending bear hug. According to Comey’s friend, Benjamin Wittes:
Comey said that as he was walking across the room he was determined that there wasn’t going to be a hug. It was bad enough there was going to be a handshake. And Comey has long arms so Comey said he pre-emptively reached out for a handshake and grabbed the president’s hand. But Trump pulled him into an embrace and Comey didn’t reciprocate. If you look at the video, it’s one person shaking hands and another hugging.
This story is so stupid it sounds like we’re recapping an episode of Veep, except there’s no way a bit as inane as attempting to blend with curtains and using superior arm length to avoid hugs would actually make the air. Maybe nobody in Washington knows what they’re doing after all.
Be sure to watch the clip of Comey and Trump’s first meeting below, and take a good look at the director’s clever disguise.