Former FBI Director James Comey told a friend that while attending a White House event earlier this year, he attempted to use his blue suit to blend in with blue curtains in the room because he wanted to avoid being noticed by Trump and prevent further awkward interaction him. When eventually Trump saw him and called him for a handshake, Comey was reportedly “disgusted” when Trump tried to hug him.
Comey claimed that he felt uncomfortable about interacting with Trump because Trump had tried to influence him during previous encounters.
Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and editor of Lawfare blog, told the New York Times that while having lunch with the former FBI director in March, Comey told him that at the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception held in the Blue Room of the White House on January 22, 2017, he tried to avoid awkward interaction with Trump by attempting to blend in his dark blue suit into the blue curtains in the room.
Comey said he tried to avoid interaction with Trump because Trump had been making efforts to befriend him and build a personal relationship with him since he became president. According to Wittes, because Comey felt uncomfortable about Trump’s attempts to befriend him, he did not want to attend the ceremony. However, he had to be at the event to represent the FBI.
Comey tried to make himself inconspicuous in the Blue Room by standing alone in the back, behind the small crowd of officials. He stood very close to the blue curtains, which nearly matched his blue suit, in the hopes that Trump would not notice him and call him out.
However, Comey’s camouflage strategy failed. As the gangling six-foot, eight-inch FBI chief was thinking that he had managed to avoid attracting attention, Trump called him.
“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.”
"isnt comey supposed to be here tonight has any body seen james comey" pic.twitter.com/x2GLNK5w74
— darth:™ (@darth) May 19, 2017
So who will play Comey on SNL for the curtains scene?
— Kristi (@KUinSC) May 19, 2017
— Jennifer (@JenNole94) May 19, 2017
The "Comey hides in the blue curtains" bit will make a real tense scene—though too over-the-top and unbelievable—in the future movie.
— Taniel (@Taniel) May 19, 2017
The video (see above) shows the moment that Comey’s camouflage failed him. Trump spotted the FBI chief standing alone in the back of the room in front of dark blue curtains similar to the color of his suit and called him by name.
“Oh, there’s Jim,” Trump said. “He’s become more famous than me.”
Comey approached Trump, determined to avoid hugging him, according to Wittes. He walked to the center of the room, and as he approached Trump, he stuck out his hand for a handshake even as Trump tried to pull him into an embrace.
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) May 19, 2017
James Comey reportedly once hid in the curtains to avoid interacting with President Trump https://t.co/ZlGIqjxCpy
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) May 19, 2017
“Comey said that as he was walking across the room he was determined that there wasn’t going to be a hug,” Wittes said. “It was bad enough there was going to be a handshake. And Comey has long arms so Comey said he preemptively reached out for a handshake and grabbed the president’s hand.”
“Right at the end, Trump singles him out in a fashion that he regarded as sort of calculated,” Wittes continued. “Trump grabs the hand and kind of pulls him into the hug, but the hug is entirely one-sided. Comey was just completely disgusted by the episode.”
“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.”
Sean Spicer hides in bushes to avoid reporters
James Comey hides in curtains to avoid Trump
Next week, Paul Ryan be like: pic.twitter.com/2cu0P7tyne
— teresa lo (@teresalo_tweets) May 19, 2017
A Comey behind the curtains is worth 2 Spicers in the bush.
— MadCitySquirrel (@MadCitySquirrel) May 19, 2017
— Sweetshade Lane (@SweetshadeLane) May 19, 2017
Trump fired Comey on May 9, saying that the FBI was in turmoil under “showboat” Director Comey.
The White House initially said that the decision to fire Comey was based on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But Trump later contradicted the original narrative when he said that he made the decision alone after considering several factors, including what he termed the “Russia thing.”
According to multiple media reports, Trump had tried to persuade Comey to drop the ongoing FBI investigation into national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign following allegations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and Trump administration officials about his contact with Russian officials.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) May 19, 2017
Comey wore a dark-blue suit to blend in with the White House curtains and avoid an awkward interaction with Trump https://t.co/4l9Z8dQDMD
— Business Insider (@businessinsider) May 19, 2017
Trump also reportedly demanded Comey’s loyalty during a private dinner.
However, Comey was reportedly determined to maintain the traditional independence of the FBI. He noticed that despite his efforts to keep the White House at arm’s length, Trump was trying to build a personal relationship with him. According to Wittes, Comey was particularly wary about appearing to be too close to the Trump administration following his role in the Clinton email investigations.
“Trump fired Jim Comey because the most dangerous thing in the world, if you’re Donald Trump, is a person who tells the truth, is dogged, you can’t control,” Wittes said, according to PBS.
Trump has repeatedly denied reports that he tried to influence Comey to drop FBI investigations into alleged ties between his campaign and Russia.
[Featured Image by Eric Thayer/Getty Images]