President Donald Trump called out embattled FBI Director James Comey on Sunday at a reception at the White House with a handshake, a bro-hug and a quip that “he’s become more famous than me.”
The surprise interaction at a Blue Room event comes amid questions over whether Trump is prepared to keep Comey on through the remainder of his 10-year term as director, which runs through 2023, or seek his resignation. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters declined to comment when asked about Trump’s plans.
The FBI has for months been investigating possible ties between Russia and Trump, Trump associates, and the Republican’s campaign. Comey also was said to have personally briefed Trump this month about a 35-page “dossier” of unverified, salacious allegations that could compromise the new president and were compiled by a former British spy, in connection with intelligence briefings on Russian hacking.
Comey has faced criticism from members of both parties for his handling of an inquiry into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while secretary of State.
Initially, Trump denounced Comey for announcing in July that no prosecution of Clinton or her aides was warranted even though they were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information. Comey later drew fire from Democrats for a disclosure to Congress about a new twist to the investigation shortly before the election. Clinton blamed Comey’s action for stopping her momentum and tipping the race against her.
Trump’s gesture of warmth toward Comey came as the president addressed a group of law enforcement officials and first responders in the White House’s Blue Room, where he thanked them for keeping him safe during the inauguration. Reporters were permitted to listen to opening remarks from a doorway.
“We had no major incidents; we’re not even sure we had minor incidents,” Trump told the group. He expressed his wishes that they would have “a great eight years together” — not the first time Trump has predicted he’ll win a second term.
“There’s James,” Trump said at one point, calling Comey to come forward as he told the crowd, “He’s become more famous than me.”