Scandal: Whatever James Comey's motives were for writing memos about his meetings with President Trump, they reveal how duplicitous the former FBI Director was with the new president.
News of those memos first broke last May, after Comey gave four of the seven he'd written to a friend, who then shared some of the details with the New York Times — details designed to make it appear that Trump was attempting to obstruct justice in the ongoing Russia investigation. Comey later admitted that he leaked the memos in hopes that it would prompt the appointment of a special counsel. Which, of course, it did.
Now, nearly a year later, we finally have the chance to see the complete Comey memos — minus a few redactions. (You can read them here.)
But the picture that emerges most clearly from them is not one of a crazed, deranged Trump trying to obstruct the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling. If anything, Trump comes across as sympathetic.
Instead, Comey manages by his own hand to show how he repeatedly lied and deceived Trump, and how he purposely withheld information from him knowing full well that by doing so he was hurting Trump's ability to do his job.
Here's a rundown.
The Dossier Briefing
In his first memo, dated January 7, Comey recounts the meeting in which he briefed Trump on the dossier. He says he did so because reporters already had the information.
But then he told Trump that the press hadn't reported on it yet because they "were looking for a news hook" and stressed to Trump that "it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material."
It turns out it was Comey himself who gave the press the hook they were looking for. Just days after, CNN used Comey's briefing of Trump as the very pretext to report on the dossier that, up until that point, they'd refused to touch.
In other words, it's far less likely that Comey briefed Trump because he was worried the press would report on the dossier, and more likely that he briefed Trump to ensure that those details would leak.
Further evidence that Comey wasn't being honest with Trump comes in his Jan. 28 memo, in which he fundamentally changes the reason given for why he briefed Trump in the first place.
In that memo, he says the reason he gave Trump the briefing was because "the media, CNN in particular, was telling us they were about to run with it."
Comey also relates in his memos how Trump repeatedly asked him to investigate the claim in the dossier about Trump hiring prostitutes in Moscow to pee on a bed that President Obama had slept in.
Comey advises against it because "I wouldn't want to create a narrative that we were investigating him," and that "it is very difficult to prove a lie."
But at the time, Comey could have easily put that story to rest, because he knew that the dossier was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. All he had to do was tell Trump, or the public, and the entire story would have been dismissed as a Democratic smear campaign.
Instead, he never told Trump the truth about the dossier's origins. He told ABC News this month that he didn't because "it wasn't necessary for my goal."
Wasn't necessary for his goal?
In fact, out of all the leaks coming out of the FBI about Trump, the origins of the dossier remained the best kept secret in Washington all the way until October 2017.
Lifting the Cloud
In his March 30 memo, Comey says Trump talked about the pall the Russia story was casting over his presidency. He "said he was trying to run the country and the cloud of this Russia business was making that difficult."
Trump told Comey that "he was trying to make deals for the country, the cloud was hurting him (and mentioned going to G-7 with it hanging over him), and he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn't being investigated."
According to his memos, Comey repeatedly assured Trump that he wasn't being investigated, and Trump repeatedly asked him to make that publicly known so he could do his job.
"I told him I would see what we could do," Comey wrote in March. But Comey admitted later that he had no intention of doing so.
The topic of FBI leaks comes up several times in the Comey memos. At one point he told Trump how "I was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message."
At the time, however, Comey likely knew that his own deputy director, Andrew McCabe, had authorized a leak to the Wall Street Journal in 2016 regarding the status of the FBI's investigation into the Clinton Foundation. That's what McCabe claims, at least.
And for all we know, Comey knew about or authorized the leak about his briefing Trump on the dossier.
He also kept telling Trump how McCabe was a "true professional," and "you would come to value him."
But Comey also likely knew that McCabe had for weeks sat on the discovery that many of Hillary Clinton's State Department emails were on Anthony Weiner's laptop.
Not exactly the mark of a "top pro."
To Tell The Truth
But the biggest lie Comey makes in his memos is when he tells Trump how "he could count on me to always tell the truth."
"I said I don't do sneaky things. I don't leak. I don't do weasel moves."
Yet everything Comey has done — both the things he recounts in the memos and what he's done since — proves the exact opposite.
He leaked classified information contained in at least one memo. He misled Trump repeatedly. He withheld key information about the dossier's funding. He did all this knowing it would undermine the presidency.
The irony of it all is that Comey is now raking in vast sums of money peddling his memoirs, which he titled: "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership."
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