It appears that President Donald Trump’s instilled a virtually phobic reaction in former FBI Director James Comey after his allegedly inappropriate pitch to terminate the investigation of former National Security Advisor Micheal Flynn. According to the New York Times, Comey asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to leave him alone with Trump. If true, the request for a type of chaperone in the Oval Office would represent a new low for the White House. In the meantime (and equally embarrassing if true), ABC reports that Sessions actually asked Trump if he should resign due to his own deteriorating relationship with the President (who was reportedly still angry at Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian investigation). Notably, the White House declined to say whether Trump still has faith in Sessions at the White House press conference.
The report quotes various officials as saying that they could not guarantee that Trump would not try to talk to Comey alone again.
If Sessions were to confirm the report, it would support Comey in establishing that he did indeed reach out to not only Main Justice but the Attorney General himself after Trump allegedly sought to persuade him to drop the investigation.
The accounts of Trump berating Sessions over his decision to recuse himself is particularly worrisome. As I discussed earlier, Sessions’ decision to recuse himself was not only clearly correct but, if anything, belated. Moreover, in the same week that Trump lambasted the Justice Department, the Sessions story would indicate a worsening situation between the White House and the DOJ. I said earlier that Trump cannot be at war with every institution from Congress to the courts to the media. If he is now sparing with his own Administration, the situation is reaching an acutely dysfunctional stage. Trump cannot be an outsider in his own Administration.
I assume that Comey will not testify that he believed that Trump had engaged in actual obstruction of justice in his conversations. Otherwise, his own failure to act would be problematic. Yet, the account of his request to Sessions (if true) would indicate that Comey was sufficiently concerned to request help directly from the Attorney General.