Mr. Comey has spoken privately of his concerns that the contacts from Mr. Trump and his aides were inappropriate, and how he felt compelled to resist them.
“He had to throw some brushback pitches to the administration,” Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Mr. Comey’s, said in interviews.
Mr. Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, the editor in chief of the Lawfare blog and a frequent critic of Mr. Trump, recalls a lunch he had with Mr. Comey in March at which Mr. Comey told him he had spent the first two months of Mr. Trump’s administration trying to preserve distance between the F.B.I. and the White House and educating it on the proper way to interact with the bureau.
Mr. Wittes said he never intended to publicly discuss his conversations with Mr. Comey. But after The New York Times reported earlier this month that shortly after his inauguration Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey for a loyalty pledge, Mr. Wittes said he saw Mr. Trump’s behavior in a “more menacing light” and decided to speak out.
Here is Benjamin Wittes post in Lawfare entitled "What James Comey Told Me About Donald Trump." Here is a link to PBS Newshour's interview with Wittes, in which he notes that he is a longtime friend of Comey but not among his closest friends or one of his intimate advisors. He also said that they "periodically" have lunch.
Besides being editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, Mr. Wittes is also co-chair of the Hoover Institution's Working Group on National Security, Technology, and Law.
And for longtime readers of Think Tank Watch, you may remember that Mr. Wittes was a part of the highly esteemed Brookings Fight Club.