Like movie trailers before a summer blockbuster, new reports are shedding more light on the increasingly toxic relationship between President Trump and top law-enforcement and intelligence officials ahead of former FBI Director James Comey’s heavily anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
In a rapid-fire series of stories on Tuesday evening, The New York Times reported that Comey told Attorney General Jeff Sessions he did not want to be alone with Trump one day after the president asked him to halt the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser; ABC News reported that Trump’s anger at Sessions for recusing himself from the organization had prompted Sessions to offer to resign; and The Washington Post reported that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats had told associates that Trump had asked him NSA Director Mike Rogers, to intervene with Comey to end the investigation.
According to the Times, Sessions could not guarantee Comey he wouldn’t be alone with the president again. It’s not clear whether Sessions subsequently informed the president of Comey’s request.
The Times’s report adds new context to the circumstances preceding Comey’s dismissal on May 9. It is also the first indication Sessions was aware of Comey’s discomfort with the president and toward possible attempts to influence him. While Sessions had formally recused himself from matter relating to the Trump presidential campaign, which would include the Russia investigation, he played a key role in Comey’s ouster by giving the president his recommendation to fire Comey.