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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

In Comey memos, Trump quotes Putin on Russian ‘hookers’, frets over Flynn

According to one memo, Donald Trump told James Comey how Vladimir Putin told him “we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world” even as the President distanced himself from an allegation concerning him and prostitutes in Moscow.

world Updated: Apr 20, 2018 22:22 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Former FBI director James Comey arrives to speak about his book ‘A Higher Loyalty’ in New York, US.
Former FBI director James Comey arrives to speak about his book ‘A Higher Loyalty’ in New York, US.(Reuters Photo)

US President Donald Trump had expressed concerns about his first NSA Michael Flynn’s judgement, spoken several times about the “golden shower thing” and “hookers”, and complained about the “cloud” of the Russia investigation, according to notes kept by former FBI director James Comey.

The memos also showed Trump had actively pursued Comey to “getting out that he personally is not under investigation”. As is extremely well known now, Trump had referred to the investigation of Flynn’s Russia contacts and said, “I hope you can let this go.”

In one of the memos, Comey wrote Trump had recounted for him a conversation in which Russian president Vladimir Putin told the real estate tycoon that “we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world”.

The department of justice handed over redacted copies of the memos running into 15 pages to three committees of the House of Representatives.

Comey kept contemporaneous notes of his meetings, conversations and phone calls with Trump, starting from their first meeting in Trump Tower days before the president took office, to a dinner in the White House for just the two of them and the time Trump asked Comey to stay back after a meeting with a larger group of officials to discuss Flynn.

Last May, Trump fired Comey, who has since written a book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, in which he called the president “unethical and untethered to the truth” and compared his administration to “the Mob”.

Comey has said in a promotional interview that Trump is morally unfit to be president.

Trump, who has followed the pre-release hype for the book and Comey’s promotional interviews and called him “slippery” and a “slime ball”, responded to the release of the memos by tweeting that they “show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classified information. WOW! Will the Witch Hunt continue?”

Much of the contents of these memos are known and are consistent with Comey’s earlier accounts in congressional testimony, his book and interviews. But the notes also offer some new and more granular details.

In one memo from January 28 last year, Comey wrote Trump had been extremely annoyed with Flynn for a delay in returning a congratulatory phone call from a world leader in the days after his inauguration.

“In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said, ‘the guy has serious judgment issues’.” The names of the leader and the country were redacted.

Flynn figures in another memo, in which, after he was fired, Trump conveyed to Comey to “let go” of the Russia investigation against his former NSA.

Flynn has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.

There is a previously unreported exchange in which Trump vented his frustration over leaks. The context of the conversation was details leaked of Trump’s phone calls with the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Australia, which had gotten extremely testy.

“I was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message,” Comey wrote, recalling that conversation. “I said something about it being difficult and he replied that we need to go after the reporters, and referred to the fact that 10 or 15 years ago we put them in jail to find out what they know, and it worked.”

The “golden shower thing” came up in several conversations and memos. Their first conversation about it was at the Trump Tower meeting, when Comey first told Trump of the dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele.

The dossier had alleged Trump had paid prostitutes in his hotel room in Moscow in 2014 to urinate on themselves and the bed. Trump had dismissed this outright, saying he is a germophobe. But he brought it up with Comey in several of their interactions and asked for an investigation.

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 09:31 IST