Did Comey Try to Blackmail Trump?

By Ray McGovern, January 14, 2019

Tyrel Ventura of “Watching the Hawks” interviewed Ray McGovern on January 10, giving Ray a chance to point out how Donald Trump apparently was administered the initiation-rite-for-presidents-elect — with rubrics designed by former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.  It seems highly likely that then-FBI Director James Comey rendered a good impersonation of Hoover on January 6, 2017, when he briefed President-elect Trump on the scurrilous “Steele dossier” that the FBI had assembled on Trump.

The interview with Ray is the first segment. (12 and a half minutes)

To dramatize the sensitivity of the dossier, Comey asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper and the heads of the CIA and NSA to leave Comey alone with the President-elect, after the Gang of Four briefed Trump on the evidence-impoverished “Intelligence Community Assessment” alleging that Putin himself ordered his minions to help Trump win. The ICA was published that same day. The dossier had been leaked to the media; Buzzfeed published its text on Jan. 10.

Apparently, it took Trump four months to realize how he was being played, and that he could not expect the “loyalty” he is said to have asked from Comey.  So Trump fired Comey on May 9.  Two days later he told NBC’s Lester Holt:

“When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”  The media and Russia-gaters immediately seized on “this Russian thing” as proof that Trump was trying to obstruct the investigation of Russian interference with Trump campaign collusion in the 2016 election.  During the interview with Lester Holt, it seems more likely that was thinking back on Comey’s J. Edgar Hoover-style, one-on-one gambit with Trump on January 6, 2017.

Would Comey really do a thing like that?  Was the former FBI director protesting too much in his June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, when he insisted that he had tried to make it clear to Trump that briefing him on the unverified but scurrilous information in the dossier wasn’t intended to be threatening. Whatever.  In any event, it seems clear that after a few months, Trump was able to reason to what he decided Comey was up to.

Indeed, in a long interview with the New York Times on July 19, 2017, Trump said he thought Comey was trying to hold the dossier over Trump’s head.  (See: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/us/politics/trump-interview-transcript.html )

Trump told the Times interviewers:

“… Look what they did to me with Russia, and it was totally phony stuff. … the dossier … Now, that was totally made-up stuff … I went there [to Moscow] for one day for the Miss Universe contest, I turned around, I went back. It was so disgraceful. It was so disgraceful.

“When he [James B. Comey] brought it [the dossier] to me, I said this is really made-up junk. I didn’t think about anything. I just thought about, man, this is such a phony deal. … I said, this is — honestly, it was so wrong, and they didn’t know I was just there for a very short period of time. It was so wrong, and I was with groups of people. It was so wrong that I really didn’t, I didn’t think about motive. I didn’t know what to think other than, this is really phony stuff.

“I think he shared it so that I would — because the other three people [Clapper, Brennan, and Rogers] left, and he showed it to me. … So anyway, in my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there. … As leverage.

“Yeah, I think so. In retrospect. In retrospect. You know, when he wrote me the letter, he said, “You have every right to fire me,” blah blah blah. Right? He said, “You have every right to fire me.” I said, that’s a very strange — you know, over the years, I’ve hired a lot of people, I’ve fired a lot of people. Nobody has ever written me a letter back that you have every right to fire me.”