Although Trump and his team most likely already had a copy of the dossier, or at the very least were cognizant of its salacious and unverified contents, we agreed with Comey that it would be best to ensure that at least the president-elect was aware of it. Comey told Trump that he had some information to share with him privately, but allowed that he could have someone from his team join him. Trump opted not to have anyone else participate. Given the nature of the allegations, they were understandably best handled one-on-one.
As soon as I left the conference room, I immediately went to the elevators and descended Trump Tower accompanied only by my security detail. While the briefing was uneventful and the president-elect was relatively well behaved, I had become even more convinced that my long-held assessment of Trump’s narcissism, lack of principles, and unfitness for the country’s highest office was accurate. He showed no intellectual curiosity about what Russia had done and how it had carried out its campaign to interfere in the election, which suggested to me that he wasn’t interested in learning the truth or in taking action to prevent a recurrence. More ominously, I left with a dark feeling that our country was entering what would be a very painful and dangerous chapter of its history.
It was a relief to leave Trump Tower and to have the day’s briefings finally over. I just wanted to get to New Jersey, so I could be with my family to grieve for my father and console my mother.
A few minutes after I arrived at the Higgins and Bonner Echo Lake Funeral Home in Westfield, New Jersey, Kathy and our children, Kyle, Kelly, and Jaclyn, pulled into the parking lot after their four-hour drive from Herndon. Steadily, other family members, friends, and former neighbors poured into the funeral home to say goodbye to Owen Brennan and tell his children and grandchildren how lucky we were to have had such a good and decent man as a father, grandfather, and role model. That evening, Kathleen, Tommy, and I, accompanied by our spouses and children, went to see my mother, Dottie, who, in her 96th year, was too feeble to venture out to the funeral home to be with her life’s partner one last time. “How is Daddy?” she asked us, as we gathered round her.
“He’s fine, Mom,” we said. “He’s now with God.” She then blessed herself, as tears rolled down her face.
The ground was already covered in a blanket of snow when our family gathered at the funeral home early on Saturday morning to pay final tribute to my father’s legacy. As Kathleen, Tommy, and I once again greeted family and friends as they arrived at the funeral home, I was taken aback when I saw two familiar faces arriving within minutes of each other. Jim Clapper and Denis McDonough, President Obama’s chief of staff, were two of my closest colleagues and friends in the Obama administration. Unbeknownst to me or to each other, they had traveled separately early that morning from their homes outside Washington, D.C., to pay their respects to my father. Over the years that we worked together, Jim, Denis, and I frequently shared stories about our families, and I had always taken great delight in bragging about my New Jersey roots and my wonderful parents. As my father’s medical condition had steadily deteriorated in December, Jim and Denis regularly asked about him, and they extended their heartfelt personal condolences when he passed.