Watch CBS News

In new book, fired FBI Director James Comey says Trump "untethered to truth"

Key takeaways from James Comey's new book
Key takeaways from James Comey's new book 02:21

In his new book, former FBI Director James Comey blasts President Trump as unethical and "untethered to truth" and calls his leadership of the country "ego driven and about personal loyalty." The book, "A Higher Loyalty," is to be released next week.

In addition, Comey says that Mr. Trump asked him to investigate the widely disseminated allegation that he had once paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed, the New York Post reports. He made the request because he worried that the accusation, which was included in former British spy Christopher Steele's opposition research on Mr. Trump, might be believed to be true by First Lady Melania Trump.

Flatiron Books

According to the Associated Press, which also obtained the book, Comey said that when he briefed Mr. Trump on the Steel dossier, he left out one detail -- the one involving the allegation that the prostitutes had urinated on a bed once used by the Obamas.

The president raised the subject again a week later, after the dossier had been made public. He then told Comey, Comey writes, that he had not stayed in the hotel and that the charge could not have been true because, Mr. Trump said, "I'm a germaphobe. There's no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way."

"He brought up what he called the 'golden showers thing' … adding that it bothered him if there was 'even a one percent chance' his wife, Melania, thought it was true," Comey recalled, according to the Post. 

"He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn't possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him."

Comey writes that the conversation happened when the pair had dinner on January 27, 2017. "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?" Comey writes, according to the Post. 

Comey also reveals new details about his interactions with Mr. Trump and his own decision-making in handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation before the 2016 election. He casts Mr. Trump as a mafia boss-like figure who sought to blur the line between law enforcement and politics and tried to pressure him regarding his investigation into Russian election interference.

The book adheres closely to Comey's public testimony and written statements about his contacts with the president during the early days of the administration and his growing concern about the president's integrity. It also includes strikingly personal jabs at Mr. Trump that appear likely to irritate the president.

The 6-foot-8 Comey describes Mr. Trump 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, saying it was "smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so."

Mr. Trump fired Comey in May 2017, setting off a scramble at the Justice Department that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. Mueller's probe has expanded to include whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey, an idea the president denies. Mr. Trump has assailed Comey as a "showboat" and a "liar."

Comey's account lands at a particularly sensitive moment for Mr. Trump and the White House. Officials there describe Mr. 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. 

Mr. Trump has said he fired Comey because of his handling of the FBI's investigation into his Clinton's email practices. The president used the investigation as a cudgel in the campaign and repeatedly said Clinton should be jailed for using a personal email system while serving as secretary of state. Democrats, on the other hand, have accused Comey of politicizing the investigation, and Clinton herself has said it hurt her election prospects.

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.

Every person on the investigative team, Comey writes, found that there was no prosecutable case against Clinton and that the FBI didn't find that she lied under its questioning.

He also reveals for the first time that the U.S. government had unverified classified information that he believes could have been used to cast doubt on Attorney General Loretta Lynch's independence in the Clinton probe. While Comey does not outline the details of the information — and says he didn't see indications of Lynch inappropriately influencing the investigation — he says it worried him that the material could be used to attack the integrity of the probe and the FBI's independence.

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.

He provides new details of his firing. He writes that then-Homeland Security secretary John Kelly — now Mr. Trump's chief of staff — offered to quit out of a sense of disgust as to how Comey was dismissed, as well as his first encounter with Mr. Trump, a January 2017 briefing at Trump Tower in New York City. Josh Campbell, who was Comey's special assistant when Comey was fired, tweeted his corroboration of Comey's call with Kelly, writing that he coordinated the call and sat next to Comey while they were on the phone. "Any indication the call did not involve Mr. Kelly discussing departure or commenting negatively about the White House does not square with reality," Campbell tweeted.

Kelly has been increasingly marginalized in the White House and the president has mused to confidantes about firing the chief of staff.

Comey also writes extensively about his first meeting with Mr. Trump after his election. Others in the meeting included Vice President Mike Pence, Mr. 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. Instead, he writes, they launched into a strategy session about how to "spin what we'd just told them" for the public.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.