FLASHBACK: Robert Gates Said He Felt Pressured To Tell Obama He Would Be Loyal

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
Font Size:

Critics of President Trump say that asking a high ranking official like former FBI Director James Comey for loyalty is unprecedented for a U.S. president.

But Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates told CBS News anchor John Dickerson last month he had a discussion about loyalty with Obama at the beginning of his first term, the Ace of Spades blog notes.

“In the reporting about the F.B.I. director, there was a report that the president asked him for his loyalty. Help people understand the line between duty, loyalty, and personal conscience,” Dickerson said.

Gates replied, “I think in the context of senior government positions, I think an anecdote of what I told President-Elect Obama when we had our first meeting. And I said, ‘You don’t know me. Can you trust me? Why do you think you can trust me?’ and so on. But at the end, I said, ‘You can count on me to be loyal to you. I will not leak. I will keep my disagreements with you private. And if I cannot be loyal, I’ll leave.’”

Gates went on to say, “Loyalty means doing what you think is in the best interest of that person as well as the country. And often, that loyalty means telling them things they don’t want to hear. It’s not being sycophantic, it’s not telling them how wonderful they are every day. It’s being willing to tell them the days they’re not wonderful. And when you think they’re making a mistake.”

However, CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer in 2014 accused Gates of not being loyal to the president, according to Gates’s memoir, Newsbusters noted.

“I think there’s a certain loyalty to the presidency. And I think when you make it harder for a president while he is still in office I think — I have problems with that,” Schieffer said.

Follow Kerry on Twitter