NEW YORK — There are major discrepancies between a story told on CNN by disgraced ex-FBI Director James Comey and the same story as Comey recalled it in his infamous memos purportedly memorializing his conversations with President Donald Trump.
At a town hall event broadcast on CNN last Thursday, Comey recounted the alleged details of a February 8, 2017 meeting inside the Oval Office.
And so the next time I was alone with him, and he told something that was obviously false, which was very, very important, he was saying in the Oval Office — a torrent of words coming at me. I remember the day, February 8th of 2017, a torrent of words. And among the words were his saying, “We are the same kind of killers that Vladimir Putin is.” He was defending his moral equivalency between us and Putin.
And I interrupted and said, Mr. President, no, we’re not the kind of killers that Putin is. And when I said that, a shadow crossed the president’s face, and the meeting was over, because I just popped that cocoon he was trying to draw around us. And so I knew at that point, I went back to the FBI, and said my relationship with this man is over, and that’s not a bad thing.
Comey clearly stated that he was “alone” with Trump in the Oval Office during that meeting and that “the meeting was over” because Comey seemed to criticize something the president said. “And the meeting was over, because I just popped that cocoon he was trying to draw around us,” Comey claimed.
In his memos on that same February 8 meeting, however, Comey says that he was not alone but met Trump along with Reince Priebus, who served at the time as White House Chief of Staff.
“Reince stayed,” Comey wrote in the relevant memo. “Seated to my right as I sat in a chair facing the President,” he said, referring to Priebus.
Comey never wrote in the memo that he was alone with Trump, and does not describe Priebus as leaving the February 8 meeting at any time. In fact, he wrote that Priebus “tried to interject” about another matter just one paragraph before Comey describes the conversation about the Putin remarks that he talked about on CNN.
At the CNN town hall, Comey said the meeting was “over” just after seemingly criticizing the president, linking the end of the meeting to his criticism. Comey writes: “And I interrupted and said, Mr. President, no, we’re not the kind of killers that Putin is. And when I said that, a shadow crossed the president’s face, and the meeting was over, because I just popped that cocoon he was trying to draw around us.”
By contrast, in his memo, Comey described the conversation continuing after the Putin remarks, moving on to “other pleasantries and we wrapped up with handshake.”
The description of “pleasantries” and a handshake does not fit with Comey’s narrative on CNN that the meeting ended and also that he “knew at that point” that his “relationship with this man” — Trump — “is over, and that’s not a bad thing.”
Comey’s memo instead reads:
He then pivoted to the Russians wanting an apology from Bill O’Reilly. I said I had seen that and O’Reilly’s reply, which was to “call him in 2023.” The President then said that O’Reilly’s question about whether he respected Putin had been a hard one. He said he does respect the leader of a major country and thought that was the best answer.
He then said. “You think my answer was good, right?”
I said the answer was fine, except the part about killers. Because we aren’t the kind of killers that Putin is. When I said this, the President paused noticeably. I don’t know what to make of it, but he clearly noticed I had directly criticized him. The conversation then moved to other pleasantries and we wrapped up with handshake.
In the version provided to CNN, Comey says “And so I knew at that point, I went back to the FBI, and said my relationship with this man is over, and that’s not a bad thing.”
In the memos, though, Comey does not say anything about the relationship being “over.” Indeed, he describes a subsequent Oval Office briefing and details three phone conversations with Trump after the February 8 meeting.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.