Comey, the source said, believed Trump did not quite grasp the inappropriateness of his actions
Comey is scheduled to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday
Former FBI Director James Comey was “disturbed” by his interactions with President Donald Trump but “he thought he had the situation under control,” a source familiar with Comey’s thinking tells CNN.
Comey, the source said, believed he was dealing with someone who did not quite grasp the inappropriateness of his actions, and that Comey thought the President could be “trained” how to interact with the FBI director. Comey considered it, the source added, as “an ongoing policing project.”
Comey, fired by Trump last month, is scheduled to testify before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday.
It is reasonable to conclude, the source added, that Comey did not think any of Trump’s individual actions constituted obstruction of justice. But, the source said, there is a question of whether the “aggregate pattern of behavior” could be seen very differently, especially after the President fired Comey.
Trump later told NBC News that he had considered “this Russia thing” when he let Comey go.
It is possible, the sources said, that a series of interactions, each of which the source said could have been considered a “ham-handed misstep,” might be seen differently by the former FBI Director with the benefit of hindsight, not to mention his own firing.
The source also said that if Comey believed in real time that an obstruction was taking place at the hands of the President, Comey would have done something other than just write a memo.
According to one of those memos written by Comey and described to CNN, during a meeting at the Oval Office, Trump told him “I hope you can let this go,” referring to the FBI’s investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The White House has denied that a “conversation of that nature occurred.”
The White House has also denied that the President asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty shortly after he took office. Trump told Fox News he did not ask for Comey’s loyalty but “I don’t think it would a bad question to ask. I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the US, is important.”