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In new book, former FBI director Comey calls Donald Trump unethical, ego-driven

James Comey also reveals new details about his interactions with Trump and his own decision-making in handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation before the 2016 election.

world Updated: Apr 13, 2018 23:09 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Washington, Hindustan Times
James Comey,Former FBI director,Donald Trump
File photo of former FBI director James Comey. (AP photo)

Former FBI director James Comey, in his book scheduled to be released next week, says US President Donald Trump had seemed fixated about proving false an encounter with prostitutes in Moscow that Russian intelligence had alleged filmed.

Comey also compares the Trump presidency to “the mob”, which he had battled as a young prosecutor, according to portions cited from advance copies of the book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership in multiple media reports on Thursday.

“As I found myself thrust into the Trump orbit, I once again was having flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob. The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview,” Comey has written.

The former FBI director, who was dismissed by Trump in May 2017, also calls him “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values” and compared his presidency to a “forest fire”.

Comey also noted other things, such as the president’s hand was smaller than his and that he has white patches under his eye that stood out against the orange pallor of his skin.

Trump hit back with tweets on Friday, calling him a proven “LEAKER AND LIAR … (and an) untruthful slimeball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI”.

The book makes no explosive revelation but abounds in previously unreported details about encounters in the brief period the two men worked together — from the election to the time Comey learnt he had been fired from a news flash on TV during a field visit to California.

There are more details of the White House dinner at which Trump asked Comey for his loyalty, and of the meeting at which Trump asked his top FBI official to “let … go” of the probe into then national security adviser Michael Flynn’s Russia contacts.

The first time they discussed the alleged incident with prostitutes was in January 2017, after a briefing of then president-elect Trump by intelligence chiefs in Trump Tower. Comey had stayed behind to tell Trump about the claims made in an intelligence document, now called the Steele Dossier.

Steele claimed Russian intelligence had photographed the encounter that took place in a Moscow hotel room in 2013 in which Trump, then just a businessman, had paid prostitutes to urinate on themselves and on the bed that former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had slept in during their visit.

Trump had “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically,” Comey has written, “I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes.”

Comey writes that Trump wanted the FBI to investigate the allegation to establish it as false.

“I’m a germaphobe,” Trump said to him in a follow-up call a few days later, according to Comey. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.”

Trump brought up the “golden showers thing” four times, Comey noted, adding, he wanted him to understand it bothered him if there was “‘even a one percent chance’ his wife Melania thought it was true.

Comey wrote he had wondered: “in what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?”

What Comey said about others

Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Overwhelmed and overmatched” by the job.

Former President Barrack Obama: Seeking to reassure Comey in the aftermath of the elections in which the FBI director was accused of tilting the scale against Hillary Clinton, Obama told him: “I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view.” A very moved Comey told Obama, “Boy, were those words I needed to hear. . . . I’m just trying to do the right thing.”

Hillary Clinton: “I have read she has felt anger toward me personally, and I am sorry for that. I am sorry that I couldn’t do a better job explaining to her and her supporters why I made the decisions I made.”

Former attorney general Loretta Lynch: Had a ““tortured half-out, half-in approach” on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 10:57 IST