Trump’s Request for Comey’s Loyalty

Via the NYTIn a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred.

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge.

The piece details additional requests.

It also notes the following in terms of why this story is now in the press:

Mr. Comey described details of his refusal to pledge his loyalty to Mr. Trump to several people close to him on the condition that they not discuss it publicly while he was F.B.I. director. But now that Mr. Comey has been fired, they felt free to discuss it on the condition of anonymity.

Not surprisingly,

The White House says this account is not correct. And Mr. Trump, in an interview on Thursday with NBC, described a far different dinner conversation with Mr. Comey in which the director asked to have the meeting and the question of loyalty never came up. It was not clear whether he was talking about the same meal, but they are believed to have had only one dinner together.

A White House spokeswoman on Thursday disputed the description of the dinner by Mr. Comey’s associates.

“We don’t believe this to be an accurate account,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary. “The integrity of our law enforcement agencies and their leadership is of the utmost importance to President Trump. He would never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty, only loyalty to our country and its great people.”

Keeping in mind the basic impossibility of knowing with certainty what happened at that dinner, I have to say two things.  First, the notion that Donald Trump would value loyalty is wholly in keeping with everything we know about the man (as is the notion that he would not understand that he should not ask the FBI Director for it).  Second, if the last couple of days has proven anything, it is that the White House does not have a credible, consistent message on any aspect of the Comey situation.

As such, I find this to be a very credible account of what happened that night.  And this is a concerning thought as we look to whomever Trump might appoint next, if these are his expectations.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Janis Gore says:

    …”small talk about the election and crowd sizes”…

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    Trump: thinks he’s Michael Corleone. Is actually Fredo. Let’s just be glad that Trump didn’t go full Genesis and demand that Comey “put his hand under his thigh”.

  3. S. Fields says:

    Second, if the last couple of days has proven anything, it is that the White House does not have a credible, consistent message on any aspect of the Comey situation.

    Well, if you’re going to lie about something as easily refutable as the size of the crowd on Inauguration Day, then credibility is going to be hard to come by when it matters.

    Aesop knew a thing or two. Who da thunk?

  4. Tom M says:

    Michael Reynolds and the others who say follow the money are correct – it’s all about the cash.
    And they better hurry the dead Russians (a great garage band name) are stacking up like cord wood.