Serenading James Comey over dinner in late January, we do not know whether Donald Trump doled out two scoops of ice cream or especially creamy chocolate pie. But as he sought to win the affection of the now former FBI Director, the fledgeling President – a man known to struggle with his reading – showed a surprisingly diverse penchant for the lyrics of lovelorn song.
This was the big takeaway from Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a rare example of swampy politics transcending to pop-cultural event. Bars opened early to give breakfast time drinkers a hotly anticipated insight into the inner workings of Trump’s White House, but the boozy morning revelry could not drown out his tender-hearted croons.
Trump regards himself as an arch negotiator, but his pleas for Comey’s loyalty seemed earnest at least. According to the erstwhile intelligence chief’s steamily evocative account, towards the end of the dinner Trump:
‘said ‘I need loyalty’. I replied ‘You will always get honesty from me’. He paused and then said, ‘That’s what I want, honest loyalty’. I paused, and then said, ‘You will get that from me.”
Comey went on to add that the duo might have understood ‘honest loyalty’ differently, a matter of phrasing he decided it would not be productive to pursue. Yet Trump pressed his guest still more firmly, with faltering voice breaking out into tune.
After conjuring the notion of ‘honest loyalty’, Trump could not help but wonder aloud, whether Comey could ever ‘love him truly, truly dear’ as a true patriot should? Would Comey ever be ‘hopelessly devoted to Trump’? And becoming desperate, tinging his paraphrased ditties now with darkly ominous threats, Trump demanded ‘don’t you love me madly, don’t you need me badly, don’t you love my ways, tell me what you say?’.
But when Trump got utterly carried away with himself, asking of Comey ‘wanna be my daddy’, the onetime leader of the federal bureau got up and walked right out the door. Knowingly or otherwise, he had responded to the President’s soul-searching entreaties with a line courtesy of the rap artist Future, repeating ‘I’m just being honest’, the refrain from the title track of the album released back in 2014. Regardless, Republicans angrily decried Comey’s penchant for ‘leaks’.