The Justice Department aide who the White House announced Friday would be President Trump’s pick for a top DOJ position appears to have also been present at a key meeting between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-FBI Director James Comey.
Jody Hunt, Sessions’ chief-of-staff at the Justice Department and Trump’s pick to be assistant attorney general of the department’s Civil Division, will have to go through a Senate confirmation process that will include a grilling by the Judiciary Committee. Among the things the committee members may want to ask him about was a meeting that occurred between Sessions and Comey in February.
The day after Trump pressured Comey to go easy on former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Comey met with Sessions and was said to have told Sessions he did not want to be left alone with Trump again. In Comey’s account, he raised concerns about Trump telling everyone else, including Sessions, to leave the Oval Office after a counter-terrorism meeting, while asking to speak to Comey alone.
Comey was ultimately fired by Trump — a move now the focus of congressional and federal investigations.
Comey elaborated on his conversation with Sessions, first reported by the New York Times, in his blockbuster Senate Intel Committee testimony in June.
In his opening statement, Comey said he told Sessions “that what had just happened – him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind – was inappropriate and should never happen. ”
“He did not reply,” Comey said, adding that he did not mention that Trump had brought up Flynn.
During the Intel Committee’s questioning, Comey recalled Sessions “just kind of looking at me” with ” body language” that “gave me the sense like, what am I going to do?”
Sessions confirmed the February conversation with Comey in public testimony in front of the the Senate Intelligence Committee the week after Comey’s appearance there. However, Sessions said, that the discussion was more about the standard “rules on private conversations with the president” and that Comey gave him “no detail about what it was that he was concerned about.”
Sessions’ in his testimony disagreed with Comey’s account, noting that his chief-of-staff was present in the meeting and also remembered it Sessions’ way.
“I do recall—my chief of staff was with me, and we recall—that I did affirm the long-standing written policies of the Department of Justice concerning communications with the White House,” Sessions said.
A Sessions’ spokesperson did not respond to TPM’s inquiry about Hunt and the meeting.