Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, FBI Director James Comey deployed a sports analogy — and revealed something about his sports fandom that won’t make him any friends in New England.
“I hate the New England Patriots,” Comey confessed while taking questions about the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s motivation to help Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
“And no matter who they play, I’d like them to lose,” he added. “And so, I’m at the same time rooting against the Patriots and hoping their opponent beats them, ’cause there’s only two teams on the field.”
The quip was meant to illustrate the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia’s hatred of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was so intense, Moscow would do anything it could to help her opponent. Clinton sometimes butted heads with the Kremlin in her role as secretary of state. When Trump started to lag in the polls and his chances of victory narrowed, the Kremlin shifted its focus to doing as much damage to Clinton’s campaign as possible, Comey said.
“When Mr. Trump became the nominee, there was some sense that, ‘It’d be great if he could win, it’d be great if we could help him, but we need to hurt her no matter what.’ And it shifted to, ‘He has no chance, so let’s just focus on undermining her.’ That was the judgment of the intelligence community.”
Comey’s Patriots-bashing contrasts with Trump’s open fandom of the football team. The president has frequently boasted about his friendships with team owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
Trump met with Kraft over the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and Kraft accompanied Trump on Air Force One on the flight back to Washington, D.C., on Sunday.
In a lighter exchange a few moments after the Patriots comment, Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., thanked Comey on behalf of Brady “for the FBI’s assistance in recovering his stolen Super Bowl jerseys.” Brady’s missing jerseys from the 2015 and 2017 Super Bowls were found earlier Monday.
Perhaps softened by the flattery, Comey admitted, “By the way, if I’m honest with myself, the reason I don’t like the Patriots is they represent sustained excellence, and as a Giants fan, that drives me crazy.”
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