Ex­cerpts from the ex­plo­sive book

First en­counter with Trump

Gulf News - - From The Cover -

Comey re­counts his visit to Trump Tower in Jan­uary 2017 to brief the pres­i­dent-elect for the first time. “His face ap­peared slightly or­ange,” he writes, “with bright white half-moons un­der his eyes where I as­sume he placed small tan­ning gog­gles, and im­pres­sively coiffed, bright blond hair, which on close in­spec­tion looked to be all his. I re­mem­ber won­der­ing how long it must take him in the morn­ing to get that done.”

Rus­sian in­flu­ence

Told of Rus­sia’s at­tempt to in­flu­ence the elec­tion in his favour, Comey writes, the pres­i­dent-elect and his ad­vis­ers asked no ques­tions about the ap­par­ent at­tack by a for­eign power and con­cen­trated only on the po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions and me­dia strate­gies — while in­tel­li­gence lead­ers stayed in the room. “Holy crap,” writes Comey, who has dis­cussed at length his early ca­reer as a Mob prose­cu­tor, “they are try­ing to make each of us an ‘amica nos­tra’ — a friend of ours. To draw us in.”

One-on-one

When Comey and Trump spoke alone about the Steele dossier, with its claims of Rus­sian con­nec­tions, Trump be­gan to talk ob­ses­sively about women who had ac­cused him of sex­ual as­sault. Seek­ing to cut him off, Comey told him he was “not un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion” per­son­ally. Comey says he did so de­spite the view of the FBI’s gen­eral coun­sel, Jim Baker, that such a state­ment was too nar­row, given Trump’s lead­er­ship of a cam­paign that was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

‘Mob boss’

Re­count­ing an Oval Of­fice meet­ing, Comey writes that Trump re­mained be­hind the Res­o­lute desk, mak­ing his vis­i­tor un­com­fort­able, where Ge­orge W Bush and Barack Obama took meet­ings on couches and chairs. Trump talked and talked. “I once again was hav­ing flash­backs to my ear­lier ca­reer as a prose­cu­tor against the Mob,” Comey writes. “The silent cir­cle of as­sent. The boss in com­plete con­trol. The loy­alty oaths. The us-ver­sus-them world­view. The ly­ing about all things, large and small, in ser­vice to some code of loy­alty that put the or­gan­i­sa­tion above moral­ity and the truth.”

Din­ner for two

At a group gath­er­ing at the White House, the 6ft 8in Comey tried un­suc­cess­fully to blend into the cur­tains to avoid the pres­i­dent’s gaze. Later, Trump’s invitation to din­ner at the White House is re­played like a scene from some Wash­ing­ton thriller — a sin­gle ta­ble in the mid­dle of the Green Room, the two pow­er­ful men alone. Comey re­alised his own job se­cu­rity was “on the menu”.

The fu­ture

In a short epi­logue, Comey con­sid­ers Trump’s char­ac­ter. “Our coun­try is pay­ing a high price” for the 2016 elec­tion, he says: “This pres­i­dent is un­eth­i­cal, and un­teth­ered to the truth and in­sti­tu­tional val­ues.” Trump’s pres­i­dency is like a “forest fire”, he says: “Im­por­tant norms and tra­di­tions will be dam­aged by the flames. But forest fires, as painful as they can be, bring growth. In the midst of this fire, I al­ready see new life — young peo­ple en­gaged as never be­fore, and the me­dia, the courts, aca­demics, non-profit, and parts of civil so­ci­ety find­ing rea­son to bloom.”

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