Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says he was "very concerned" that fired FBI Director James Comey's decision to brief President Trump on salacious details from an opposition research dossier might have been interpreted by Mr. Trump as a threat.
"I was very concerned when I heard the plan for the director of the FBI to one-on-one brief Mr. Trump about this dossier," Johnson.
In his, Comey relates that Johnson warned him about the briefing the president on unverified allegations involving Russian prostitutes. The briefing occurred in Trump Tower when Mr. Trump was president-elect, and was later leaked to the press.
"Jim and I had discussed over time the Hoover-era history of the FBI," Johnson said, a reference to the FBI's first director J. Edgar Hoover's tactic of compiling damaging intelligence on presidents in an apparent effort to manipulate them.
"My own grandfather, and Jim knows this, who was a sociologist, has an FBI file of several hundred pages," Johnson said. "So Jim and I talked about the history of the FBI and he and I literally -- literally -- finished my sentence when I said, there's a fine distinction, Jim, between telling somebody 'just so you know' and telling somebody 'just so you know, and don't mess with us.' And I was concerned that the president-elect was going to hear the latter and not the former message and Jim understood that, and I think he did his best."
When asked if he would have not gone through with the briefing if he was FBI director, Johnson demurred.
"That's a good question," Johnson replied. "I was not in the FBI director's position, but I was concerned about what he was about to do and felt as a friend that I should talk to him, because I had met Mr. Trump during the campaign and during the transition."