Donald Trump wanted James Comey to investigate the infamous “pee tape” allegations to reassure his wife that he had not paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on a hotel bed, the former FBI chief claims in his upcoming book.
“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,” writes Mr Comey in his book, to be published next week.
“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.”
Mr Comey writes that the conversation took place during the same private dinner on January 27, 2017, where Mr Comey as claims the president demanded “loyalty”. The dinner was held days after BuzzFeed published an intelligence dossier produced by British former spy Christopher Steele, alleging that the Kremlin had a tape of Mr Trump paying prostitutes to urinate on a bed once occupied by Barack Obama.
Mr Comey also claims in the book that Mr Trump’s chief of staff called the president "dishonourable" over his firing of the FBI director.
Mr Comey was fired in May, when he was heading up an investigation into possible collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, saying he was "not able to effectively lead the bureau".
Mr Comey was in California on a work trip at the time and only learned of his sacking when he saw the news break on TV screens.
According to the Daily Beast, Mr Comey claims in his memoir that John Kelly, who was at the time the head of the Department of Homeland Security, called him within minutes of his dismissal to offer his support.
Mr Comey reportedly writes that Mr Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, was “emotional” over the manner in which he was fired.
He went on to say that he “intended to quit” in protest because “he didn’t want to work for dishonourable people” in a pointed reference to Mr Trump.
Mr Comey claims to have encouraged Mr Kelly, a retired general, to stay in post telling him “this president”, more than his predecessors, needed people of principle and integrity around him.
Mr Kelly’s offer to resign has previously been reported but Mr Comey’s comments offer the first confirmation of the story and reveal the fiery comments made by Mr Trump’s right hand man.
Mr Kelly is known to have a difficult relationship with the president but the revelations will likely cause further tensions in the West Wing.
Wow, watch Comey lie under oath to Senator G when asked “have you ever been an anonymous source…or known someone else to be an anonymous source…?” He said strongly “never, no.” He lied as shown clearly on @foxandfriends.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
It comes as the Republican Party launched a smear campaign against Mr Comey in anticipation of his tell-all book, which is expected to be heavily critical of Mr Trump.
It takes the form of a website called "Lyin’ Comey" which brands the former FBI chief as a discredited, partisan former official.
The extensive counter-offensive , funded by the Republican National Committee, also includes digital advertising to be sent to Republicans across the country before Mr Comey’s book is published on Tuesday.
Profile | James Comey
Mr Comey, who served as President George W Bush’s former deputy attorney general, once enjoyed bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and was appointed to lead the FBI by President Barack Obama in 2013.
His dismissal has been seen as one of Mr Trump’s most controversial decisions in office and led to questions over whether it amounted to obstruction of justice – one of the grounds for impeachment.
His searing new book represents the first time he will extensively lay out his account of his time in office to the public.
In a tweet last month, he wrote: "Mr President, the American people will hear my story very soon and they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not."
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