Trump calls Comey a ‘slimeball’ after book details emerge
Former FBI director, fired by US president a year ago, likens Trump to mob boss
There have been few days like Friday in the history of US law enforcement.
President Donald Trump denounced the former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an “untruthful slime ball”, called for his prosecution, and declared: “It was my great honor to fire James Comey! ”
Mr Comey, for his part, was asked in an excerpt of an ABC News interview due to air on Sunday if he believed the salacious allegations in a former British spy’s dossier published last year: “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know.”
The remarkable accusations and counter-accusations came ahead of the publication of Mr Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty on Tuesday. They followed a tense week defined by the FBI’s raids on the office and hotel of Mr Trump’s personal attorney.
“This is the strangest chapter in the 110-year history of the FBI,” said Garrett Graff, the author of a richly reported biography of the agency.
The media war between Mr Trump and Mr Comey kicked off in earnest after excerpts of the former FBI director’s book leaked before its official publication on April 17th.
The long anticipated memoir describes the president as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values” and compares him to a mob boss, with “the silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview.”
James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2018
....untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst “botch jobs” of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2018
The book’s most salacious sections deal with allegations from the January 2017 dossier that claim Mr Trump paid sex workers to urinate on each other in a Moscow hotel.
The unevidenced claim obsessed the president, who suggested it should be investigated to disprove it, Mr Comey writes. He claims Mr Trump said “it bothered him if there was ‘even a one per cent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true”.
Mr Trump hit back on Friday morning in a pair of tweets calling Mr Comey a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” and claiming the former FBI head’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails would “go down as one of the worst ‘botch jobs’ of history”.
The president’s supporters have been preparing a campaign to discredit Mr Comey ahead of a nationwide tour in support of the book. The Republican National Committee has branded him “Lyin’ Comey” and highlighted Democratic criticisms of the decisions he took in the Clinton probe.
Mr Comey, a Republican who served as a prosecutor for three decades until his dismissal by Mr Trump last year, became a controversial figure during the 2016 presidential election and was accused of sinking Mrs Clinton’s campaign.
He was criticised for deviating from normal department of justice practice by announcing the closure of the probe into Mrs Clinton’s emails in a press conference in July 2016 where he said she had been “extremely careless”, and drew criticism again when he publicly reopened the probe days before the polls opened.
Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney-general and the top department of justice official overseeing the Russia investigation, wrote a scathing memo last year about the events.
Mr Rosenstein, himself now under pressure as the president’s supporters call for his dismissal as a means of crippling the Russia probe, wrote that “almost everyone agrees [Mr Comey] made serious mistakes”, adding: “It is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”
The memo was used by the White House to justify Mr Trump’s decision to fire Mr Comey, a move that helped repair the former FBI director’s reputation. “Prior to the day that Trump fired him, he was quite far from a hero of the left,” said Mr Garrett.
In the book, Mr Comey defends his handling of the email investigation and suggests his re-opening of the probe was influenced by the belief that Mrs Clinton would win the election.
He writes in the book: “Hindsight is always helpful, and if I had to do it over again, I would do some things differently.” – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018