New York Times Contributor: Comey's Testimony Like a Sexual Harassment Victim's

June 10th, 2017 2:36 PM

A number of senators on both sides of the aisle wondered during the June 8 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing why its witness, former FBI Director James Comey, did not react when President Donald Trump supposedly indicated to him his desire to obstruct justice in the Michael Flynn matter. The most obvious answer is that Comey did not really feel there was an obstruction request at the time especially since he never mentioned it during his May 3 testimony. However, a very imaginative New York Times opinion writer, Nicole Serratore, suggested the real reason was that the 6' 8" Comey felt sexually harassed by Trump.

Yes, poor Comey couldn't react to Trump at the time because he felt sexually intimidated. It sounds like a scenario straight out of a theatrical comedy and indeed Serratore happens to be a theater critic which could explain her June 8 drama queen analysis.

As I listened to James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, tell the Senate Intelligence Committee about his personal meetings and phone calls with President Trump, I was reminded of something: the experience of a woman being harassed by her powerful, predatory boss. There was precisely that sinister air of coercion, of an employee helpless to avoid unsavory contact with an employer who is trying to grab what he wants.

I tweeted about this Wednesday night, and immediately heard from other women who had seen that narrative emerge. How recognizable it was that Mr. Comey was "stunned" to find himself in these potentially compromising positions. His incredulity, mixed with President Trump’s circling attempts to get his way, were poignant. For a woman who has spent a lifetime wrestling with situations where men have power they can abuse, this was disturbingly familiar.


On Jan. 27, Mr. Comey received a last-minute dinner invitation from the president, and then learned it would be “just the two of us.” On Thursday, Mr. Comey revealed that he had had to break a date with his wife in order to dine with Mr. Trump. Already, something about this “setup” made him “uneasy.”

The central business of this intimate dinner was Mr. Trump’s insistence: “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Mr. Comey immediately recognized that this was a press for something he did not want to give. He froze: “I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed.”

That reaction — the choice of stillness, responses calculated to neither encourage nor offend that characterized so many of his dealings with Mr. Trump — is so relatable for any woman. During his testimony, Mr. Comey was asked why he had not responded more robustly, why he had not told Mr. Trump that he, the president, was acting inappropriately or reported his behavior immediately to others in authority.

Ummm... Could it be the most obvious answer; that Comey did not feel like he was being pressured at the time? Naw! Forget that. Let us go with the hilariously entertaining sexual harassment scenario in which 6' 8" wilting flower Comey felt intimidated by the predatory villain Trump.

The victim of sexual harassment is constantly haunted by the idea that she said or did something that gave her persecutor encouragement. Serial harassers, of course, have an intuitive sense of this, and are skilled at manipulating and exploiting it.

Mr. Comey, you are not alone. How many of us have played over and over in our minds an encounter that suddenly took a creepy, coercive turn? What did I say? Were my signals clear? Did I do something ambiguous? Did I say something compromising?

Mr. Comey, you go, girl!

Serratore continues to make her case for former top law enforcement officer Comey as sexually harassed:

At a White House ceremony on Jan. 22, Mr. Comey reportedly tried to blend in with the curtains, so that he would not be noticed by the president. Mr. Trump called to him and pulled him, unwilling, into a hug. What woman has not tried to remain invisible from an unwelcome pursuer’s attentions?

To this series of bizarre interactions, in which he faced escalating pressure, Mr. Comey reacted with rising anxiety and distress. Time after time, Mr. Trump reverted to his questionable agenda, and Mr. Comey, at each pass, tried to parry the president’s unwanted advances.

This dynamic with the president became so disturbing to Mr. Comey that, after an Oval Office meeting in February, he implored the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, “to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me.” Mr. Comey did not want to be left alone with his boss again. We’ve been there, Jim.

Comey better hope that the preceding is not used as evidence to have his man card revoked.

The funniest thing about the theme of James Comey as a sexual harassment victim is that other media outlets are now picking up on this in order to provide an excuse for Comey's silence when he was supposedly being pressured by President Trump. Some examples are USA Today with Now James Comey knows how women feel when the boss harasses them and Vox with Why didn't he quit — or fight back? Senators treated Comey like a sexual harassment victim.

Exit question: Should James Comey file a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC?