We finally know what former FBI Director James Comey’s memos on his interactions with President Donald Trump say, almost a year after the world first learned of their existence.
The Justice Department handed Congress unclassified versions of Comey’s memos Thursday after top Republicans on multiple House committees requested them last week. Hours later, the Associated Press published 15 pages of them.
The most important events detailed in the memos are already public knowledge, including allegations that Trump asked Comey to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn and that Trump repeatedly asked Comey for “loyalty” while the two shared a private dinner.
But the memos also contain telling details about the then-nascent Trump White House, and Trump’s own state of mind.
Digging for information on Mike Flynn
Both Trump and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus apparently questioned whether to trust Flynn. Trump told Comey that he had “serious reservations about Mike Flynn’s judgment,” Comey wrote, while Priebus flat-out asked him whether the FBI had a FISA warrant out on Flynn. (A FISA warrant grants law enforcement the ability to wiretap somebody suspected of spying for a foreign government.) Comey said he declined to answer Priebus, and Flynn later left the administration after admitting he'd lied about talking with Russian officials to Vice President Mike Pence.
Concerned about Andrew McCabe’s politics
Trump also worried that he couldn’t trust Andrew McCabe, who was then serving as the FBI’s deputy director, since McCabe’s wife, Jill, had garnered hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Clinton ally during an successful run for a Virginia state Legislature seat. Though Comey reassured him of McCabe’s ability to put partisanship aside, McCabe was ultimately fired from the FBI in March, just days before he would have earned his pension.
Preoccupied with the “Golden Showers Thing”
Trump insisted the “Golden Showers Thing,” as he called the longstanding rumor that he had sex with Russian escorts in a Moscow hotel, creating the so-called “pee tape,” never happened — because Trump would never hire prostitutes. “There were no prostitutes, there were never prostitutes,” Trump told Comey in a meeting, according to the memo. Comey writes, “He then said something about him being the kind of guy who didn’t need to ‘go there’ and laughed (which I understood to be communicating that he didn’t need to pay for sex).”
Trump also brought up the pee tape again at dinner, according to the memo. “The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense but that Putin had told him ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world,’” Comey wrote, adding, “He did not say when Putin had told him this.”
Interested in jailing reporters
Trump repeatedly pushed Comey to aggressively go after leakers, and suggested putting reporters in jail. Comey says Trump "mentioned Judy Miller by name" during the conversation.
“They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk,” Comey said Trump told him. While Comey seemed open to the idea, he also cautioned Trump that going after leakers and the journalists they talk to can be legally thorny.