A Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request has potetially squelched a claim made by President Donald Trump regarding former FBI Director James Comey and current Russia special counsel Robert Mueller.
The FOIA request, submitted by BuzzFeed News investigative reporter Jason Leopold, sought to find images from the FBI that may have shown Comey and Mueller “hugging” or “kissing” one another. The FBI reported back the results of its inquiry, stating to Leopold that such images were not found.
“We were unable to locate records responsive to your request. Therefore, your request is being administratively closed,” the response to the FOIA request read, according to reporting from the Washington Examiner.
Following the release of the FOIA request, Comey tweeted out to his followers his response to its findings.
“My wife is so relieved,” he said, following it up with a laughing-with-tears emoji on his Twitter account.
The request made by Leopold was made last month after Trump suggested he himself had 100 pictures of the two engaged in either a hug or a kiss between each other. Many news outlets went on searches themselves, reported HuffPost in September, digging through their stock photo archives and finding nothing, but Leopold’s FOIA request seems to leave no doubt that Trump may not be telling the truth on the matter.
Trump made the comments during an interview he held with the Daily Caller.
“[Mueller is] Comey’s best friend. And I could give you 100 pictures of him and Comey hugging and kissing each other,” Trump said.
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) October 23, 2018
Mueller and Comey do have a well-documented friendship, which the president has suggested complicates Mueller’s role as special counsel in the Russia investigation, which now includes looking into Trump’s presidential campaign activities. It’s possible that Mueller is also examining whether Trump engaged in any actions that could be perceived as obstruction of justice in the investigation, including his firing of Comey in May 2017, according to Politico.
It is interesting also to see Trump lambast Comey and Mueller over possibly hugging one another. According to Comey’s own telling of his time in the Trump administration, the president himself attempted to hug him in front of a large audience in the Oval Office in the early days of his tenure.
Comey, not thinking such a gesture to be appropriate given the independence that the FBI is meant to have between itself and the executive branch, shifted his positioning with the president, according to his accounts of the interaction, preventing the hug from happening.
“He was not going to get a hug without being a whole lot stronger than he looked,” Comey wrote in his book.
Other accounts of that day demonstrated that Trump, in fact, may have blown an “air kiss” to Comey in the Oval Office during the same meeting, additional reporting from HuffPost stated at the time.