We regret to inform you that James Comey, the former director of the FBI, says it’s “possible” that a pee tape involving Donald Trump and Russian prostitutes actually exists.
The most infamous section of the Steele dossier, which was full of salacious claims involving Trump and Russia, included a totally unverified claim that the now-president paid prostitutes in 2013 to pee on a Moscow hotel bed where Barack and Michelle Obama once slept.
In his new book, Comey revealed Trump asked him to investigate the claim that any such video existed in order to prove that it wasn’t true. In an interview Friday on Good Morning America, Comey said for the first time that the near-mythical tape could really exist.
“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,” said Comey, in one of the most extraordinary sentences ever broadcast on breakfast television. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.”
Elsewhere in the interview, broadcast ahead of the April 17 release of his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, Comey told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos that he discussed the allegations with Trump on more than one occasion—experiences which he justifiably described “really weird.”
Comey said that during a private dinner with Trump on Jan. 27, 2017, the president brought up the dossier and said that “he may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn’t happen. And then he says something that distracted me because he said, you know, ‘If there’s even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that’s true, that’s terrible.’”
The former FBI director added: “And I remember thinking, ‘How could your wife think there’s a 1 percent chance you were with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow?’ I’m a flawed human being, but there is literally zero chance that my wife would think that was true. So, what kind of marriage to what kind of man does your wife think [that] there’s only a 99 percent chance you didn’t do that?”
Comey advised Trump that it would be unhelpful to start an investigation into the prostitute allegations as it might lend weight to them and also because it would be nearly impossible to prove once and for all that it didn’t happen.
The former FBI director recounted a separate private meeting with Trump on Jan. 6, 2017, at Trump Tower, where he first told Trump about the contents of the dossier in a surreal one-on-one conversation. The president appeared concerned about how the dossier may undermine his election victory and asked Comey to confirm it had no impact on the election.
Comey recalled thinking ahead of the tricky conversation: “I’m about to meet with a person who doesn’t know me, who’s just been elected president of the United States, [and] by all accounts, and from my watching him during the campaign, could be volatile. And I’m about to talk to him about allegations that he was involved with prostitutes in Moscow and that the Russians taped it and have leverage over him.”
He described the sensitive conversation as an “almost out-of-body experience, adding: “I was floating above myself, looking down, saying, ‘you’re sitting here, briefing the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in Moscow.’”
He went on: “I started to tell him about—the allegation was that he had been involved with prostitutes in a hotel in Moscow in 2013 during the visit for the Miss Universe pageant and that the Russians had filmed the episode, and he interrupted very defensively and started talking about it, you know, ‘Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?’” Comey recalled.
“And I assumed he was asking that rhetorically, I didn’t answer that, and I just moved on and explained, ‘Sir, I’m not saying that we credit this, I’m not saying we believe it. We just thought it very important that you know.’”
Comey said he told the president he had no idea if the allegations were true, saying: “I said … ‘I’m not saying that I believe the allegations, I’m not saying that I credit it… I never said, ‘I don’t believe it,’ because I couldn’t say one way or another.”
Speaking after his interview aired on Good Morning America, ending with Comey saying it’s “possible” the Russian pee tape exists, ABC’s Stephanopoulos said: “I gotta say, that took my breath away.”
If the supposed prostitute tape really was recorded by the Russians, it would give Russian President Vladimir Putin a powerful means of influence over Trump, potentially leaving open the ability to blackmail or attempt to bend the president of the United States to Russia’s will.
The Steele dossier, put together by a former British intelligence officer, contains multiple allegations of misconduct and conspiracy between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. The section including the “pee tape” allegations included other examples of so-called kompromat—or compromising information—including alleged bribery and other sexual acts involving prostitutes. Some of the allegations in the document have been verified, but large parts have either been disproved or are yet to be proved.
Elsewhere in the book, The Washington Post reported Thursday, Comey writes that Trump told him during a January 2017 White House meeting that the pee-tape allegation “couldn’t be true” because he didn’t stay at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton overnight and “only used the hotel room to change his clothes.”
“I decided not to tell him that the activity alleged did not seem to require either an overnight stay or even being in proximity to the participants,” Comey writes, according to the Post.
However, as The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand pointed out early Friday, NBC News reported in November that Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller told a congressional panel that a Russian wanted to send prostitutes to the room, but that Trump declined the offer and went to bed alone at the Moscow hotel. “One source noted that Schiller testified he eventually left Trump’s hotel room door and could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night,” the report stated.
Trump hasn’t responded to the substance of the claims by Comey, but he questioned his integrity in a Twitter outburst against him shortly after the interview was aired Friday morning, saying: “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 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!”