Excerpts from the explosive book
First encounter with Trump
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.”
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.”
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.
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”.
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.”