Comey says Sessions left him 'on his own' when he pleaded for Sessions to step in with Trump

  • James Comey's new book describes attempts to defend himself from what he saw as inappropriate meetings with President Donald Trump.
  • Comey said the president asked him to two private meetings where he seemed to lean on his then-FBI director for political advantage.
  • Comey asked Jeff Sessions, the attorney general and his boss, to "be between me and the president."
  • He said Sessions responded by not meeting his gaze, darting his eyes around, and letting Comey know he was on his own.

Former FBI director James Comey has accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of shirked the responsibility of standing up to President Donald Trump to prevent him from subverting the independence of the FBI.

Comey described Sessions ignoring a direct plea to help him avoid situations where he was left alone with Trump, a violation of US government norms that he saw as undermining the FBI's independence.

Writing in his memoir, "A Higher Loyalty," Comey said he made the request of Sessions after the second time Trump drew him into a private conservation in order to attempt to gain political advantage.

RELATED: Inside the White House on the day Trump fired Comey

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Inside the White House on the day Trump fired James Comey
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Inside the White House on the day Trump fired James Comey
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lyndsey Walters hands out documents to reporters in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, advising them that there will be no further on camera statements, after US President Donald Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture shows a copy of the letter by U.S. President Donald Trump firing Director of the FBI James Comey at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Writers work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Writers work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
This picture shows a copy of the letter by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to U.S. President Donald Trump recomending the firing of Director of the FBI James Comey, at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Reporters work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Reporters work on the story about Director of the FBI James Comey's firing by U.S. President Donald Trump in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters hands out a statement relating to the firing of the Director of the FBI James Comey by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters (R) hands out a statement relating to the firing of the Director of the FBI James Comey by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Deputy White House Press Secretary Lindsay Walters (R) hands out a statement relating to the firing of the Director of the FBI James Comey by U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A journalist looks at a copy of the termination letter to FBI Director James Comey from US President Donald Trump in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A journalist looks at a copy of a letter from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions to US President Donald Trump recommending the termination of FBI Director James Comey in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
White House Deputy Press Secretary Lyndsey Walters speaks to reporters in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, advising them that there will be no further on camera statements, after US President Donald Trump sacked FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Comey described meeting Sessions at a secure conference room inside the Department of Justice, writing:

"When the room was clear, I did what I had promised the president and passed along his concerns about leaks and his expectation that we would be aggressive in pursuing them.

"Under the optimistic assumption that the attorney general had any control over President Trump, I then took the opportunity to implore him to prevent any future one-on-one communications between the president and me.

"'That can't happen,' I said. 'You are my boss. You can't be kicked out of the room so he can talk to me alone. You have to be between me and the president.'"

"He didn't ask me whether anything happened that troubled me, and I didn't say, for reasons discussed above. Instead, in a move that would become familiar to me, Sessions cast his eyes down at the table, and they darted quickly back and forth, side to side.

"To my memory, he said nothing. After a brief moment of eye darting, he put both hands on the table and stood, thanking me for coming.

"I read in his posture and face a message that he would not be able to help me."

The meeting came shortly after Trump asked Comey to stay behind after a White House intelligence briefing.

In the one-on-one, Comey says, Trump seemed to suggest that Comey ought to stop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn over his meetings with the Russian government.

It followed the infamous "loyalty dinner" at which, Comey says, Trump asked him for his personal allegiance, a request he likened to the behavior of a mob boss.

Comey regarded the one-on-one meetings as an attempt by Trump to drag the FBI into political matters, compromising its integrity.

Describing his discomfort, Comey wrote:

"The head of the FBI could not be put into the position of meeting and chatting privately with the President of the United States — especially after an election like 2016.

"The very notion would compromise the Bureau’s hard-won integrity and independence."

Comey also uses the book to take extensive aim at Trump's character, and has said he is "morally unfit" to serve as president.

Trump has decried Comey's decision to publish the book. The president referred to Comey as a "slime ball" on Twitter, and suggested that he ought to be jailed.

RELATED: Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Hope Hicks: Former White House Director of Strategic Communications
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Gary Cohn: Former Director of the U.S. National Economic Council
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Former Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Former Secretary of State
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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