Journalist Benjamin Wittes – a friend of Comey’s – told PBS News Hour that the then FBI Director “really did not want to go” to the inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception at the White House in January.
He wasn’t keen to put on a “show of intimacy” with the new President as there were “a lot of Democrats that kind of blame him for Trump”, Wittes said.
The editor-in-chief of Lawfare added that Comey went out of his way to remain under the radar, deliberately standing at the furthest possible point from Trump, in a blue suit, against blue curtains.
At 6’8″ tall, he remained rather conspicuous, however – and Trump was determined to give him his moment in the spotlight.
Wittes said: “Right at the end, Trump singles him out in a fashion that he regarded as sort of calculated to maximally drive home this sensitivity among Democratic voters.”
Trump said “He’s become more famous than me”, as Comey reluctantly gave up his camouflaged position, walking towards Trump with his hand extended.
Wittes said: “Trump grabs the hand and kind of pulls him into a hug but the hug is entirely one-sided. And Comey was just completely disgusted by the episode.
“He thought it was an intentional attempt to compromise him in public in a way that would sow and emphasise concerns that half of the electorate had about him and the bureau.”
President Trump sensationally fired Comey as head of the FBI earlier this month.