Former FBI Director James Comey describes President Trump as “untethered to truth” and “ego-driven” in his forthcoming book “A Higher Loyalty,” according to excerpts obtained by The Associated Press and other news outlets Thursday.
In the book, which hits shelves April 17, Comey goes so far as to question the strength of Trump’s marriage to his wife, Melania, after revealing that Trump asked him to investigate salacious allegations about his actions with Russian prostitutes.
“It bothered [President Trump] if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true,” Comey writes, according to the New York Post. Later on, Comey muses: “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?”
The claim was repeated in a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and published by BuzzFeed News in January 2017, shortly before Trump’s inauguration.
That’s not the only personal jab at Trump: The AP reports that Comey, who stands 6-foot-8, describes the president as shorter than he expected with a “too long” tie and “bright white half-moons” under his eyes that he suggests came from tanning goggles. He also says he made a conscious effort to check the president’s hand size — briefly a subject of mockery among Trump’s Republican rivals on the campaign trail — saying it was “smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.”
Trump fired Comey in May 2017, claiming he did so because of Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices. According to The AP, Comey writes that he regrets his approach and some of the wording he used in his July 2016 press conference in which he announced the decision not to prosecute Clinton. But he says he believes he did the right thing by going before the cameras and making his statement, noting that the Justice Department had done so in other high profile cases.
In an excerpt obtained by ABC News, Comey reveals that he felt he had to take on a more prominent role in the Clinton investigation because of unverified classified information about then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
According to ABC, Comey writes that “the source and content of that material remains classified as I write this.” However, he adds that if the information had become public, it “would undoubtedly have been used by political opponents to cast serious doubt on the attorney general’s independence in connection with the Clinton investigation.”
Comey also provides new details of his firing. According to The AP, he writes that then-Homeland Security secretary John Kelly — now Trump’s chief of staff — offered to quit out of a sense of disgust as to how Comey was dismissed.
Comey also writes extensively about his first meeting with Trump after his election, a confab which also included Vice President Mike Pence; Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus; Michael Flynn, who would become national security adviser; and incoming press secretary Sean Spicer. Comey was also joined by NSA Director Mike Rogers, CIA Director John Brennan and DNI Director James Clapper.
After Clapper briefed the team on the intelligence community’s findings of Russian election interference, Comey said he was taken aback by what the Trump 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,” Comey writes, according to The AP. Instead, he writes, they launched into a strategy session about how to “spin what we’d just told them” for the public.
Comey’s account lands at a particularly sensitive moment for Trump and the White House. Officials there describe Trump as enraged over a recent FBI raid of his personal lawyer’s home and office, raising the prospect that he could fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, or try to shut down the probe on his own. The Republican National Committee is poised to lead the pushback effort against Comey, who is set to do a series of interviews to promote the book, by launching a website and supplying surrogates with talking points that question the former director’s credibility.
Comey’s book will be heavily scrutinized by the president’s legal team looking for any inconsistencies between it and his public testimony, under oath, before Congress. They will be looking to impeach Comey’s credibility as a key witness in Mueller’s obstruction investigation, which the president has cast as a political motivated witch hunt.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.