SEN. MARCO RUBIO: I will keep my questioning brief as we are pressed for time. Mr. Comey, I would just like to know why you continued to answer the President’s calls?
DIR. JAMES COMEY: Well, as I stated in open session I tried to avoid the president’s calls, but he was persistent and I did not feel comfortable ignoring him.
RUBIO: So, in a way you encouraged the calls?
COMEY: I wouldn’t say so.
RUBIO: But you did answer them, did you not? You could see just as easily as any of the rest of us when the president was calling.
COMEY: I answered the calls in a way I felt was appropriate.
RUBIO: If the calls made you feel so uncomfortable, as you say they do, it seems to me that you would just ignore them completely. Ghosting is a very easy and effective tactic, Mr. Comey. Had you not answered the president’s calls or texts for several weeks, I am confident he would have gotten the message.
COMEY: I’m sorry was — what was your question?
RUBIO: Mr. Comey, why did you not simply ghost the president instead of leading him on?
COMEY: I did not feel comfortable ghosting the president of the United States. He has a great deal of authority and, as this committee is aware, he has a temper. I did not want to escalate the situation further.
RUBIO: That frankly seems a little melodramatic, Mr. Comey. The President has never persistently called or harassed me so I just can’t imagine he would do that to you. Honestly Mr. Comey, you should be flattered and honored that a powerful man like the president is paying attention to you. You’re going to miss that kind of attention when it’s gone. (Sighs) With that said, I yield my remaining time to the Senator from Arkansas.
SEN. TOM COTTON: Mr. Comey, could you not have just told the president you were already in a patronage relationship with another party?
COMEY: Senator, I — what?
COTTON: It seems to me there are numerous ways you could have alleviated the president’s interest in you. You could have easily told him you were already seeing another leader and that you appreciated his attention but could not reciprocate appropriately at this time.
COMEY: Sir, I am not comfortable lying to the president of the United States. It also does not seem fair that I should be forced to lie my way out of an inappropriate situation with a man in power.
COTTON: Mr. Comey I don’t want to speak for everyone on this panel, but I know I am not the only Republican who, during the election, informed Mr. Trump that I was really trying to focus on my career and couldn’t engage in a personal relationship of the kind he was looking for. Sometimes these are just the things that must be done to maintain decorum and propriety. I don’t appreciate the implication that you are somehow afforded a different set of social norms than the rest of us.
COMEY: Senator Cotton I am just a little confused about your assertion that I should assume such behavior is normal and prepare myself accordingly. It did not, and does not, seem to me to be too much to go to the Inauguration and not have someone initiate an unwanted hug. I just find it ludicrous that I should have to tell a grown man that I am already in a patronage relationship with someone else to ensure that I not contacted in improper ways.
COTTON: Mr. Comey it is troubling to me that you seem to be living in a different D.C. than the rest of us. Senator Blunt, I have completed my questioning.
SEN. ROY BLUNT: Thank you, Senator Cotton. Mr. Comey, on Inauguration Day, when you say you were trying to avoid the president’s attention in the Blue Room, what were you wearing?
COMEY: I don’t — could you rephrase I think I’m misunderstanding?
BLUNT: What were you wearing, Mr. Comey?
COMEY: A — suit?
BLUNT: This blue suit? (holds up an enlarged photo of the meeting)
COMEY: Um yes that is a photo of the interaction.
BLUNT: Mr. Comey has your wife told you on occasion that suit quote “really brings out the blue in your eyes”?
COMEY: Wait, how… what?
BLUNT: Just answer the question, Mr. Comey. Are you or are you not aware that blue suit brings out the color in your eyes in a way that is appealing to others?
COMEY: I — yes. To my recollection, I have been told that before.
BLUNT: Then you are aware of the effect you have on others when wearing that suit?
COMEY: My mother told me not to brag about myself but yes, others have told me that I (shrugs) cut a striking figure in that suit.
BLUNT: Then you cannot hold Mr. Trump accountable for the fact that he was drawn to you, correct?
BLUNT: Mr. Comey it is a straightforward question — you wore that suit knowing it would appeal to men like Mr. Trump and then when it did and he hugged you, you acted like it was shocking and appalling, correct?
COMEY: I — that did not cross my mind in such words but I suppose it could be construed that way.
BLUNT: I would like the record to show that Mr. Comey admitted to purposefully wearing his best “come hither” suit.
COMEY: Now wait a—
BLUNT: I will yield the rest of my time, thank you Mr. Comey.
SEN. RICHARD BURR: This committee has to adjourn for a vote, but I would like to thank Mr. Comey for his time and willingness to participate in this hearing. We have much deliberation and discussion ahead of us but I do feel comfortable admonishing Mr. Comey, much in the way you yourself admonished former Secretary Clinton. A great deal of the issues you are dealing with now would not exist if you had not presented yourself as available and open to such advances from President Trump. There are things you can do so as to make sure you do not appear to be asking for this. Something I hope you consider in the future. And with that, we are adjourned.