Twitter Thinks James Comey Hearing Resembled a ‘Date Rape’ Trial

Sabrina Rojas Weiss
Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate intelligence committee on June 8. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

So much about James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding his communications with President Trump seems like completely uncharted territory in politics. But when the former FBI director revealed more details of what happened before he was fired last month, some came up with an unexpected analogy for the situation: that it had vibes similar to a post-date-rape discussion, and the murky prosecution that often follows sexual assault.



Beginning with the release of Comey’s prewritten testimony on Wednesday night, observers took to Twitter to note that the relationship between the president and Comey was uncomfortably like that of a sexual assault perpetrator and his victim.


“#Comey’s January (surprise) one-on-one dinner w/ the #BogusPOTUS kind of like a type of date-rape when u realize ‘oh, s***, we’re all alone,’ ” @PhinkPlamingo wrote.


On Thursday, in answer to Sen. Mark Warner’s questions about his dinner with the president in January, Comey described why it seemed like Trump wanted his “patronage.”

“I could always be wrong, but my common sense told me what was going on is, either he had concluded or someone had told him that … ‘you’ve already asked Comey to stay, and you didn’t get anything for it,'” Comey said. “And that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship, in fact, he asked specifically, of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay.”

This sounds a lot like the old-fashioned argument that if a guy pays for dinner, he expects sexual favors from his date, regardless of consent.

“Perpetrators of sexual violence often use tactics, such as guilt or intimidation, to pressure a person into something they do not want to do,” the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network states on its website.

Then Comey said Trump repeatedly mentioned that he would be allowed to stay in his job, which Comey interpreted to mean he should remain loyal.

“When — you’ve seen the picture of me walking across the Blue Room. And what the president whispered in my ear was, ‘I really look forward to working with you,'”  Comey told Warner.

That prompted Twitter user Adam Barken to write, “Is it just me, or do details of the Trump/Comey relationship feel like an Afterschool Special about date rape? ‘He whispered in my ear…’ ”


More viewers pointed out that the Senate committee’s questions seemed like they were prosecutors blaming a victim.

“Now, here’s the question, you’re big, you’re strong; I know the Oval Office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked of Trump’s allegedly telling Comey he hoped he would drop the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. “There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, ‘Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you’?”

“It’s a great question,” Comey replied. “Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took in.”

That reaction sounded eerily like the phenomenon of temporary paralysis some women experience when being sexually assaulted.

TV writer and producer Nell Scovell began to replace words of the session to illustrate just how powerful this analogy was. “Feinstein essentially asks Comey: ‘Why didn’t you fight back? Why’d you let him date rape you?’ Comey: I should have been stronger,” she wrote. “More Comey/date rape Why didn’t you tell anyone? I talked to my friends. We all agreed no one would help.”




Jaclyn Friedman, a writer and anti-rape activist, made the same connection. “Why didn’t you try harder to stop him?” she tweeted. “Why didn’t you tell the authorities? This is straight-up blame the victim bulls***. #Comey #ComeyDay”


One of the most important things to tell a victim of sexual assault to facilitate their recovery: “It’s not your fault.” Perhaps the Senate hasn’t read these guidelines.

Quite a few Twitter users were unhappy with the comparison.

“Can we not compare the Comey grilling to that of a rape victim?” Carolyn Framke wrote. “Even if sometimes rhetorically similar, they’re not the same f***ing thing.”

Certainly, this discussion does not solve the problem of possible Russian collusion or obstruction of justice. One hopes it can work the other way around, though: to remind people of just how helpless even seemingly strong people can become.

As Huffington Post writer Chloe Angyal tweeted, “If anything, the parallels in language and tone here should be reminder that harassment and rape are far more about power than about sex.”

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