April 13, 2018 / 3:24 PM / 4 months ago

Highlights from former FBI Director James Comey's new book

(Reuters) - A searing memoir by former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired last May by U.S. President Donald Trump, is due to be published next week.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Below are some highlights from the book:

- During a private dinner with Trump at the White House, Comey writes:

‘Unprompted, and in another zag in the conversation, (Trump) brought up what he called the “golden showers thing,” repeating much of what he had said to me previously, adding that it bothered him if there was “even a one percent chance” his wife, Melania, thought it was true. That distracted me slightly because I immediately began wondering why his wife would think there was any chance, even a small one, that he had been with prostitutes urinating on each other in Moscow.’

- Comey writes that Trump said he was thinking about asking the FBI to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. Comey expressed concern about creating a narrative that the president was being investigated personally and that it was difficult to prove something never happened. Trump said he would think about it and asked Comey to consider it too.

‘He then returned to the issue of loyalty, saying again, “I need loyalty.” I paused, again. “You will always get honesty from me,” I said. He paused. “That is what I want, honest loyalty,” he said. This appeared to satisfy him as some sort of “deal” in which we were both winners.’

- Comey described an intelligence briefing for the president-elect at Trump Tower, where Trump and his team were told about Russia’s interference in the election:

‘I recall Trump listening without interrupting, and asking only one question, which was really more of a statement: “But you found there was no impact on the result, right?” The intelligence team said they had done no such analysis.

‘What I found telling was what Trump and his team didn’t ask. They were about to lead a country that had been attacked by a foreign adversary, yet they had no questions about what the future Russian threat might be.’

A copy of former FBI director James Comey's book "A Higher Loyalty" is seen in New York City, New York, U.S. April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Soren Larson

Instead, Trump and his team immediately started discussing how they would “spin” the information on Russia as if the intelligence officers were not in the room. ‘They were keen to emphasize that there was no impact on the vote, meaning that the Russians hadn’t elected Trump.’

- Comey writes that during the meeting he kept thinking of the New York mafia from his experience as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, and how the Trump team’s behavior was aimed at making the intelligence community part of his group – his ‘Cosa Nostra’.

- During the Trump Tower intelligence briefing, Comey writes, he asked to talk privately to the president-elect about the allegations in a dossier that Trump had been with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel in 2013 and that the Russians had filmed the episode. ‘Before I finished, Trump interrupted sharply with a dismissive tone. He was eager to protest that the allegations weren’t true.’

Comey writes that he explained that the issue was not whether the FBI believed the allegations but that it thought it was important that Trump knew about them, especially since the press was about to report on it.

‘He again strongly denied the allegations, asking – rhetorically, I assumed – whether he seemed like a guy who needed the services 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. As he began to grow more defensive and the conversation teetered towards disaster, on instinct, I pulled the tool from my bag: “We are not investigating you, sir.” That seemed to quiet him.’

- During the private dinner at the White House, Comey writes that Trump talked about living at the White House and the women who accused him of sexual assault:

‘He talked about the trappings of the White House, saying something to the effect of “This is luxury. And I know luxury.” ‘He said he hadn’t mistreated a long list of women, reviewing each case in detail, as he had in our earlier conversation. There was no way he groped that lady sitting next to him on the airplane, he insisted. And the idea he grabbed a porn star and offered her money to come to his room was preposterous.’

- Comey describes being taken, somewhat unwillingly, to a meeting with Trump by Reince Preibus several days after comments that Trump made about Russian President Vladimir Putin on the Fox News Channel show The O’Reilly Factor:

‘Looking at me, he said. “You think it was a great answer, right?” and started to move on. I jumped on it and did something I might never have done as a younger person – especially to a president of the United States ... I interrupted his monologue. “The first part of your answer was fine, Mr. President.” I said, as he took a breath and looked at me with a blank expression. “But not the second part. We aren’t the kind of killers that Putin is.” At that remark, Trump stopped talking altogether. In that brightly lit room, with its shiny gold curtains, a shadow seemed to cross his face. I could see something change in his yes. A hardness, or darkness. In a blink, the eyes narrowed and his jaw tightened. He looked like someone who  wasn’t used to being challenged or corrected by those around him.

‘I found myself thrust in to 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.’

- Comey recounts that in a little more than a month he wrote multiple memos about his encounters with Trump. ‘I knew I would need to remember those conversations both because of their content and because I knew I was dealing with a chief executive who might well lie about them. To protect the FBI, and myself, I needed a contemporaneous record.’

Reporting by Angela Moore; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Chris Reese

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