Scoundrel Time

Comey Asks Justice Department to Reject Trump’s Invisible Duck Claim


WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that an invisible duck sits on his shoulder, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Mr. Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether an invisible duck sits on his shoulder. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the invisible duck “very troubling” and said Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.

In his demand for a congressional inquiry, the president, through his press secretary, Sean Spicer, issued a statement on Sunday that said, “President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether an invisible duck sits on his shoulder.”

In a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, the president seemed to be convinced that those claims were true. In one post, Mr. Trump said, “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that an invisible duck sits on my shoulder!”

Asked whether an invisible duck sits on the president’s shoulder, James R. Clapper Jr., a former director of national intelligence, said on NBC’s Meet the Press, “Not to my knowledge, no.”

Mr. Trump’s demands for a congressional investigation of the invisible duck were initially met with skepticism by lawmakers, including Republicans. Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said he was “not sure what it is that he is talking about.”

“I’m not sure what the genesis of that statement was,” Mr. Rubio said.

Pressed to elaborate on Meet the Press, Mr. Rubio said, “I’m not going to be a part of an invisible duck hunt, but I’m also not going to be a part of a cover-up.”