Comey Book Is A Shot Across Trump’s Bow

Hang on, the ride on the Trump Train is about to get a lot bumpier.

It’s been yet another rough week for the Trump Administration. It started out with the office and home of Trump’s longtime lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen being raided by Federal authorities executing a search warrant that appears to have been broad-ranging, covering everything from the payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to allegations regarding other incidents in which Cohen may have been used as a conduit to purchase the silence of women that the President had an affair with or has been accused of sexually harassing. While Trump was freaking out over that event, he’s been forced to deal with everything from formulating a response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria, the consequences of his irresponsible rhetoric on international trade, and Paul Ryan’s decision to step aside as Speaker of the House at the end of the year. All of this has been marked, without much surprise, by a President who has been increasingly outspoken both on Twitter and in press appearances and who appears to become more and more unhinged as the days go by.

Now, as the week comes to a close, things are only seeming to get worse as former F.B.I. Director James Comey begins to take a shot across the President’s bow with the release of his new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, which is set to be released next Tuesday:

WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump asked Director James B. Comey of the F.B.I. to investigate and knock down a lurid but unverified report that placed Mr. Trump years earlier in a Moscow hotel suite with prostitutes, explaining to Mr. Comey that the fantastic story was untrue and was painful and distressing to his wife, Melania Trump.

Mr. Comey describes two January 2017 conversations between himself and Mr. Trump in “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” Mr. Comey’s new memoir, which is set to be released Tuesday. The New York Times acquired a copy of the book before its release, and accounts of the exchange appeared in reports by several other news organizations on Thursday evening.

By Mr. Comey’s accounts, Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, disputed the so-called Steele dossier, a document compiled by a former British intelligence officer that detailed an allegation in which Mr. Trump watched prostitutes urinate on each other. Mr. Comey writes that Mr. Trump insisted that “there’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me” in part because he is a self-professed germophobe. “No way.”

Four months later, Mr. Trump abruptly fired Mr. Comey, setting in motion a cascade of political and legal consequences that led directly to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Mr. Comey and Mr. Trump have been engaged in a verbal war with each other, often on Twitter, since then.

The 304-page memoir by Mr. Comey is the only firsthand, insider account to emerge so far by a former Trump official describing what it was like to work in the chaotic early days of the administration. In it, Mr. Comey, a veteran law enforcement agent, writes unsparingly about Mr. Trump, calling him a tempestuous president whose connection to honesty was tenuous at best.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Mr. Comey writes in the book, saying his service to Mr. Trump recalled for him the days when he investigated the mob in New York. “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

With the book’s release set for next week, Mr. Comey is planning a media blitz, beginning with an intensely hyped interview with ABC News that is set to air Sunday night. Republican allies of Mr. Trump’s have already set in motion a counteroffensive, creating a “Lyin’ Comey” website aimed at discrediting the former F.B.I. chief.

Mr. Comey’s book does not include dramatic new revelations about the Russia investigation itself, which is continuing. But Mr. Comey does not pull punches as he provides rigorous detail — pulled from his contemporaneous notes — about his charged interactions with Mr. Trump during the transition and in the White House.

Laced with excruciating detail, Mr. Comey — who is 6 feet 8 inches tall — describes meeting Mr. Trump for the first time, noting that the soon-to-be-president, at 6 feet 3 inches tall, appeared shorter than he had assumed.

“His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles,” Mr. Comey writes of his impressions during that first in-person session. He said Mr. Trump had “impressively coifed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his.”

The book also serves as a platform for Mr. Comey to once again defend his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the decisions that for a time made him one of the most despised figures among political liberals and other supporters of Mrs. Clinton.

However, Mr. Comey acknowledges that he thought Mrs. Clinton would win the presidency and said it is “entirely possible” that he decided to reveal that the email investigation had started up again 11 days before the election because he was primarily concerned that if he concealed the renewed investigation, it would make her an “illegitimate president.”

Would he have made a different decision if Mr. Trump had been ahead in the polls? “I don’t know,” Mr. Comey concedes.

(…)

Mr. Comey reveals that after he was fired, he received what he calls “an emotional call” from John F. Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security and would go on to become Mr. Trump’s second chief of staff.

During the call, Mr. Kelly said he was “sick” about the firing and intended to quit in protest, Mr. Comey writes, adding: “I urged Kelly not to do that, arguing that the country needed principled people around this president. Especially this president.”

Mr. Comey has already told some of the stories about Mr. Trump that he writes about in the book, including descriptions of a January 2017 dinner in which the former F.B.I. director says the president sought to extract a loyalty pledge from him.

He describes in detail the moment when he says Mr. Trump raised the issue of Michael T. Flynn, the onetime national security adviser who had been fired for lying. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Comey.

“It was very concerning,” Mr. Comey writes.

But in the book, Mr. Comey goes much further than he has before in offering his assessment of the president’s character. Describing one exchange with Mr. Trump and Reince Priebus, then the chief of staff, Mr. Comey comments on the president’s assertions of what “everyone thinks” and what is “obviously true.”

“I could see how easily everyone in the room could become a co-conspirator to his preferred set of facts, or delusions,” Mr. Comey writes about the president. He says he watched Mr. Trump build “a cocoon of alternative reality” around the people in the room.

More from The Washington Post:

The nation’s intelligence chiefs had just finished briefing Donald Trump on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election when FBI Director James B. Comey stayed behind to discuss some especially sensitive material: a “widely circulated” intelligence dossier containing unconfirmed allegations that Russians had filmed Trump interacting with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013.

The president-elect quickly interrupted the FBI director. According to Comey’s account in a new memoir, Trump “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes. He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised. He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”

The January 2017 conversation at Trump Tower in Manhattan “teetered toward disaster” — until “I pulled the tool from my bag: ‘We are not investigating you, sir.’ That seemed to quiet him,” Comey writes.

Trump did not stay quiet for long. Comey describes Trump as having been obsessed with the portion dealing with prostitutes in the infamous dossier compiled by British former intelligence officer Christopher Steele, raising it at least four times with the FBI director. The document claimed that Trump had watched the prostitutes urinate on themselves in the same Moscow suite that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had stayed in “as a way of soiling the bed,” Comey writes.

Comey writes that Trump asked him to have the FBI investigate the allegations to prove they were not true, and offered varying explanations to convince him why. “I’m a germaphobe,” Trump told him in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, according to Comey’s account. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.” Later, the president asked what could be done to “lift the cloud” because it was so painful for first lady Melania Trump.

Then, on May 9, 2017, Trump fired Comey, leading to the Justice Department special counsel’s Russia investigation.

(…)

In his memoir, Comey paints a devastating portrait of a president who built “a cocoon of alternative reality that he was busily wrapping around all of us.” Comey describes Trump as a congenital liar and unethical leader, devoid of human emotion and driven by personal ego.

Comey narrates in vivid detail, based on his contemporaneous notes, instances in which Trump violated the norms protecting the FBI’s independence in attempts to coerce Comey into being loyal to him — such as during a one-on-one dinner in the White House residence.

Interacting with Trump, Comey writes, gave him “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. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

The result, in Comey’s telling, is “the forest fire that is the Trump presidency.”

“What is happening now is not normal,” he writes. “It is not fake news. It is not okay.”

Not surprisingly, Comey’s reemergence on the scene just about eleven months after being fired by President Trump is not sitting well with the President, or with the Republicans who are slavishly supporting him. This morning, for example, President Trump lashed out at Comey on Twitter, and the Republican National Committee is falling in line behind him with a campaign centered around a party-established website called “Lyin’ Comey” that alleges to catalog the lies that Comey has told over the years as well as the attacks that were made against him by Democrats during the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and handling of classified information as well as the letter he wrote to Congress advising that he had reopened the investigation just eleven days prior to the election. Despite all these attacks, which are being slavishly repeated by the usual suspects on Fox News Channel and within conservative media and the conservative blogosphere, Comey’s memoir is receiving largely positive reviews, most especially from The New York Times’  Michiko Kakutani.  While this conservative pushback will no doubt work among the true believers, it’s clearly not going to stop Comey from speaking, or the press from covering what he has to say.

Here are Trump’s morning tweets in response to the Comey rollout:

Much of the current attention is being focused on the more salacious aspects of Comey’s book, such as Trump’s apparent obsession with the allegations of bizarre sexual preferences contained in the dossier prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. That dossier has played a limited role in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the election, potential collusion between the Trump campaign and people connected to the Russian government, and the host of other apparent legal and ethical violations that people within Donald Trump’s orbit have committed over the years. What has received the most attention in some circles, though, are the allegations that Trump has been involved in certain sexual practices with prostitutes that are, to say the least, unusual. This is also apparently the portion of the dossier that the President has become most obsessed with, and which has been among the primary reasons for his year-long efforts to undermine the Russia investigation, although a large part of that is also motivated by the fact that he clearly believes that acknowledging the reality of Russian interference in the election would undermine the legitimacy of his own Presidency. In the process, of course, all he’s really done is further undercut that legitimacy, and that’s only likely to accelerate in the future.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    What passes for a White House communications and press staff these days, ought to make it clear to the Toddler in Chief how hard it is to downplay the importance of a critical, in-depth book, like Comey’s, if he keeps making such a big deal about it.

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  2. An Interested Party says:

    Oh that’s rich…this trash calling someone else a “slime ball”…projector, heal thyself…

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  3. Pete S says:

    I love how Trump accuses Comey of lying and leaking. He is just throwing insults that his supporters are too stupid to understand. If Comey is lying he can’t be leaking, because whatever he is talking about did not happen. If Comey is leaking then whatever he is talking about DID happen, so he is not lying.

    Maybe someone can take Trump aside and suggest that he wait longer than 2 words later in the same tweet to undermine his own defense.

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  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    That was my first thought – Trump is doing nothing more than ensuring this book will be a best seller on opening day.

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  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    It seems Dennison is more concerned about the pee-pee tape than Russia attacking our country.
    Given the way he has warned Putin about a coming attack on Syria…not surprising.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I am not a witch.”

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  7. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I think the book would be a best seller regardless. But if the staff is trying to downplay it as the work of a mere disgruntled employee, and then Trump undermines that message throwing Twitter tantrums like a toddler, the sales will be much higher.

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  8. Kathy says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    He doth protest so much about the Pee Tape, that I’m convinced it’s 100% real.

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  9. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:
  10. James Pearce says:

    Comey is a despised public figure whose book will have a shelf life shorter than a TV season.

    Trump is a corrupt head of state –with friends– threatening to prosecute.

    Who will win this grudgematch? Tune in next week…..

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  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    Trump is a corrupt head of state –with friends– threatening to prosecute.

    What friends? Sycophants don’t count.

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  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    When can we expect to see “You Damn Kids Get Offa My Lawn – or How To Be A Contrarian, Just Because” hitting the shelves? 🙄

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  13. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    Lol, does he even have a communications staff left at this point? 😀

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  14. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @HarvardLaw92:

    At the moment, Comey’s book is #20 on Amazon. I guarantee it’ll top the New York Times bestseller list.

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  15. al-Ameda says:

    in a related item ….

    Remember Jerome Corsi, author of the fiction hit piece: ‘Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry’?

    Well he’s back. I saw a couple of ads the other night for, “Killing the Deep State: The Fight to Save President Trump.”

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  16. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Comey is a despised public figure whose book will have a shelf life shorter than a TV season.”

    Um, yeah? Is there a point here? The book will sell tons of copies in a short amount of time, and then disappear into the memory hole along with almost every other book of its kind. Something like “All The President’s Men” and “The Best and the Brightest” — a booked rooted in the news of the moment that is also such an excellent work of literature that it stays in print for decades — comes around a frequently as a memoir by a presidential candidate that’s actually worth reading.

    So, great, we’ve established that Comey won’t be nominated for the Nobel in literature down the road. What does this have to do with anything?

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  17. James Pearce says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Sycophants don’t count.

    No way. In this particular application, sycophants are better than friends.

    @HarvardLaw92:

    When can we expect to see “You Damn Kids Get Offa My Lawn – or How To Be A Contrarian, Just Because” hitting the shelves?

    That was my publisher’s proposed title. I nixed it.

    It’s now called “Ready Player One by Ernest Cline” and it’s #1!!!!!

    (My point isn’t to be contrarian, it’s to point out the power imbalance here. One guy has political power and political support, as much as we all don’t like that, and the other guy has a manuscript. So Comey has a NYT best seller? That puts him in the company of Dan Brown, John Grisham, and Mary Higgins Clark. Our republic is still in peril and it will not be saved by gossip-mongers who measure success by what insta-books appear on the bestseller lists. How many times must it be said? This is how he beats you.

    Right now on CNN, Jake Tapper over a chyron that says “Comey Goes to War In Devastating Takedown of Trump.” WTF? He wrote a book; it’s not “war.” No “takedown” is devastating unless it’s delivered with fists or weapons.

    I’ve seen this movie before back when John Oliver “destroyed” Drumpf. Fire and Fury…fizzled. And yet, here we are, hoping this time it’ll work. It won’t.)

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  18. Joe says:

    Reading the advances, I grow convinced that Comey’s primary goal (or at least secondary goal, after selling more books) is to goad and taunt Trump into saying or doing more stupid and, ultimately, incriminating things.

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  19. CSK says:

    @Joe:

    If that’s his plan, it’s working. Trump’s going insane on Twitter.

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  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Joe:

    Now why would a former US Attorney / former FBI Director / Former Deputy US Attorney General / patriot do something like that? 🙂

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  21. teve tory says:

    just saw on twitter:

    Bishop Talbert Swan

    Verified account

    @TalbertSwan
    8h8 hours ago
    More
    James @Comey has been married to Patrice Failor for 31 years. They have 5 children.

    Trump:
    -cheated on his pregnant wife with a porn actress
    -cheated on ALL 3 WIVES
    -had unprotected sex (with MULTIPLE women)
    -Paid off women to keep quiet

    WHO’S THE SLIMEBALL?

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  22. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Jerome Corsi is “Washington Bureau Chief” for Infowars. What else do you need to know?

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  23. teve tory says:

    @James Pearce:

    When can we expect to see “You Damn Kids Get Offa My Lawn – or How To Be A Contrarian, Just Because” hitting the shelves?

    As soon as they get back the glowing blurb from Wendy Vitter is my guess.

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  24. teve tory says:

    @al-Ameda: Corsi’s now pushing QAnon, about how all the top democrats and law enforcement are all global satanic child sex traffickers and trump
    is secretly arresting them by the hundreds.

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  25. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Now why would a former US Attorney / former FBI Director / Former Deputy US Attorney General / patriot do something like that?

    Because he’s an idiot.

    You don’t goad the beast unless you want to get gored. So Comey goads Trump into saying dumb things on Twitter…then what?

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  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Gotcha. Please, by all means, lay our your master strategy for defeating Trump and the GOP in November.

    You’re really good at saying what’s wrong with everybody else’s thoughts, so let’s hear your plan. We’re all ears …

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  27. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Please, by all means, lay our your master strategy for defeating Trump and the GOP in November.

    Put the popcorn down. This is not entertaining or fun or something to sit back and watch.

    Stop obsessing over the daily newscycle. We have this tabloid presidency mostly thanks to a tabloidy media. Trump has abused them like a battered wife, and like the shrew that has been tamed, they largely follow his lead.

    Hammer Democrats. Who, if not them, are supposed to be checking this guy? This is how scary the Democrats are: Corey Lewandowski shows up to testify and he says “I’m not answering any more f’ing questions.” To Congress. With a smile on his face. Like he had nothing to fear. And he doesn’t. His dad can beat up your dad.

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  28. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Corsi got that business about arresting the perverts from Rosanne. We are living in one surreal sh!tshow.

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  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Gotcha. Your master plan is 1) stop watching the news and 2) attack fellow Democrats.

    Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the mf’king Republicans control the mf’king committees. Don’t quit your day job …

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  30. teve tory says:

    @CSK: I think the origins of that QAnon horseshit trace back to 4chan or something like it.

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  31. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Roseanne probably got it from 4chan.

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Don’t quit your day job …

    Oh, that was an audition? Well, don’t worry. I don’t intend to quit my day job so that I personally can fix the Democrats.

    the mf’king Republicans control the mf’king committees

    The Republicans don’t just control the committees…they control the federal government and most state governments too. And yet who is the persistent thorn in Trump’s side? His own people? The FBI? Robert Mueller?

    We don’t have an opposition party. We have a party of excuses. “But, but…we don’t control any committees.” I know! Thank you.

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  33. rachel says:

    @James Pearce:

    You don’t goad the beast unless you want to get gored.

    Tell it to the picadores.

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  34. An Interested Party says:

    We don’t have an opposition party. We have a party of excuses. “But, but…we don’t control any committees.” I know! Thank you.

    Talk about excuses…it must be so very easy to trash Democrats without offering any concrete ideas of your own…hey, maybe they should click their heels together three times and then they’ll magically control the legislative branch of the federal government…

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  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    And yet your plan to fix this situation involves not watching the news & forming a circular firing squad.

    Like I said “You Damn Kids Get Offa My Lawn“. Contrarians, like three day old fish – quickly begin to smell …

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  36. James Pearce says:

    @rachel: The picadores, who are basically the last people on earth who routinely get gored?

    @An Interested Party:

    it must be so very easy to trash Democrats without offering any concrete ideas of your own

    It’s so easy to lob this criticism after I offered a few ideas of my own. Slightly harder to just say you don’t like them.

    @HarvardLaw92:

    not watching the news & forming a circular firing squad

    Well, not being led like sheep by the newscycle and getting rid of these complacent Dems, sitting in their comfortable seats barely letting the winds of history ruffle what hair they have left on their ancient heads, seems like a start.

    But hey, whatever is going on now seems to be working. Let’s just do that, but more I guess.

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  37. An Interested Party says:

    It’s so easy to lob this criticism after I offered a few ideas of my own.

    Like what? I guess you mean being a persistent thorn in Trump’s side? Certainly that would be much more effective with control of Congress…

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