Among the many jaw-dropping revelations made by President Donald Trump during an interview with NBC News was his claim that FBI director James Comey asked for a dinner meeting in hopes of keeping his job.
But a current and former FBI official told the network the president’s account was inaccurate.
The sources told NBC News that the White House requested the one-on-one meeting, which took place shortly after Trump’s inauguration in January.
The former senior FBI official said Comey never would have told Trump he was not under investigation, as the president claimed.
“He tried to stay away from it [the Russian investigation],” said the former official, who worked closely with Comey and stays in touch with him. “He would say, ‘Look sir, I really can’t get into it, and you don’t want me to.'”
The current FBI official confirmed that Comey did not request the dinner meeting, and that he reluctantly accepted the invitation.
“The president is not correct,” the former official said. “The White House called him out of the blue. Comey didn’t want to do it. He didn’t even want the rank and file at the FBI to know about it.”
But Comey felt he had little choice in the matter.
“He’s still the commander in chief — he’s your boss,” the former official said. “How do you say no?”
The FBI sources could not confirm a New York Times report that Trump had asked Comey to declare his loyalty, but the former official said he would expect the FBI director to refuse, as the newspaper reported.
They said Comey was a popular and well-regarded director, which contradicts claims by the White House, and they cast doubt on claims by Sarah Huckabee Sanders that multiple FBI employees had told her they were grateful Trump fired him.
“I doubt five people at the FBI even have the [phone] number of the deputy White House press secretary,” the former senior official said.