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.

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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.

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