Trump wishes Comey luck on testimony

Allies aim at former FBI Director’s credibility

AP PHOTO President Donald Trump, left, gestures during a meeting with House and Senate Leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday. With Trump are House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. (center), and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., is to Trump’s left, unseen.

WASHINGTON — The White House and its allies are scrambling for ways to offset potential damage from fired FBI Director James Comey’s highly anticipated congressional testimony, an appearance that could expose new details about his discussions with President Donald Trump about the federal investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

Asked about the testimony, Trump on Tuesday was tight-lipped: “I wish him luck,” he told reporters before a meeting with lawmakers.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening a person familiar with the situation said Comey had told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he did not want to be left alone with Trump.

The person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the comment was made because of concerns Comey had about Trump.

It was not immediately clear when the conversation occurred. But The New York Times, which first reported the interaction with Sessions, said it came after Trump had asked Comey in February to end an FBI investigation into Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior declined to comment. He said Sessions “doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to respond to media inquiries on matters that may be related to ongoing investigations.”

Trump’s White House and its allies are crafting a strategy aimed at undermining Comey’s credibility. Both White House officials and an outside group that backs Trump plan to hammer Comey in the coming days for misstatements he made about Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails during his last appearance on Capitol Hill.

The Republican National Committee has been preparing talking points ahead of the hearing, which will be aired live on multiple TV stations. An RNC research email Monday issued a challenge to the lawmakers who will question Comey. There’s bipartisan agreement, the email says, that Comey “needs to answer a simple question about his conversations with President Trump: If you were so concerned, why didn’t you act on it or notify Congress?”

Comey’s testimony before the Senate intelligence committee marks his first public comments since he was abruptly ousted by Trump on May 9.