Comey tried to hide in White House curtains to avoid Trump

The New York Times published new details Thursday night about the deterioration of the relationship between ousted FBI Director James Comey and Donald Trump, who tried to convince Comey multiple times to drop the federal investigation into his campaign’s involvement with Russia. The reports contains one particularly scandalous scoop about the time Comey tried to hide from Trump by camouflaging himself in some White House curtains during a post-inauguration ceremony.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey and cofounder of Lawfareblog, has the story:

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.

“He thought he had gotten through and not been noticed or singled out and that he was going to get away without an individual interaction,” Mr. Wittes said Mr. Comey told him.

Unfortunately for Comey, a giant human, the disappearing act failed. Trump spotted him from across the room and called him over. By the grace of god (and ABC News), you can watch that interaction on video.

As Wittes describes it, Comey dreaded the possibility of a handshake photo opp, since this was shortly after the inauguration and Comey a) didn’t want to appear too chummy with Trump since a lot of people blamed him for the election results and b) was in the process of attempting to teach Trump proper divisions between the Justice Department and the White House. Here’s Wittes’s play-by-play:

“Comey said that as he was walking across the room he was determined that there wasn’t going to be a hug,” Mr. Wittes said. “It was bad enough there was going to be a handshake. 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.”

We may never know the sound of one hand clapping, but this evidence of one man hugging will go down in history (the history of how the United States collapsed.)

[NYT | Screenshot: ABC News]