President Donald Trump declared James Comey an “untruthful slimeball” before the release of Comey’s new memoir — and now the former FBI director has revealed some colorful thoughts of his own about the man who fired him. In A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, out Tuesday, Comey remembers Trump as a “slightly orange” man, whom Comey found disturbingly similar to the Mafia members he had prosecuted in the past.
“[Trump’s] face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles, and impressively coiffed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his.” Comey describes in his book, according to CNN.com.
Comey recalled taking in Trump’s appearance during a January 2017 meeting with the president, Trump’s senior team and other national intelligence directors, where Trump was informed about Russia’s interference in the election.
Comey didn’t miss a single physical detail, even assessing the size of Trump’s hands, which were famously described as being “short-fingered” in a 1988 issue of Spy magazine — an insult that has haunted Trump ever since.
“As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so,” Comey writes, according to CNN.com.
But Comey, who was fired from his post as FBI Director by President Trump in May 2017, does more than just mock Trump’s appearance. In A Higher Loyalty Comey looks back at his own career, the difficult decisions he made during the 2016 election, and all the ways in which President Trump is a direct antithesis to the values Comey holds dear.
“My book is about ethical leadership & draws on stories from my life & lessons I learned from others,” Comey tweeted on Sunday. “3 presidents are in my book: 2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint. I hope folks read the whole thing and find it useful.” Comey was apparently referring to Trump as the “counterpoint” to former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom Comey served and spoke of favorably in his book.
The former FBI director makes his opinion on Trump clear when he recounts the end of the January 2017 meeting. Trump, then-White House aides Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, and Vice President Mike Pence responded in a surprising way to the news of Russia’s meddling. Rather than showing concern, they discussed “how they could spin what we’d just told them,” and planned “how to position these findings for maximum political advantage,” Comey writes, according to ABC News.
“I sat there thinking, Holy crap, they are trying to make each of us ‘amica nostra’ – friend of ours. To draw us in,” Comey writes, according to ABC News. “As crazy as it sounds, I suddenly had the feeling that, in the blink of an eye, the president-elect was trying to make us all part of the same family and that Team Trump had made it a ‘thing of ours.’ ”
Comey drew a similar analogy while remembering a dinner in which President Trump demanded his loyalty, according to The New York Times. In the book, Comey compares Trump to Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, a former leader of the Gambino crime family, saying Trump’s request reminded him of “Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony — with Trump, in the role of the family boss, asking me if I have what it takes to be a ‘made man.’ ”
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“I had never seen anything like it in the Oval Office. As I found myself thrust into the Trump orbit, I once again was having flashbacks to my earlier career as a prosecutor against the Mob,” Comey also writes, according to the Washington Examiner. “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 organization above morality and above the truth.”
As more details from the book are released, Trump’s tweets have become more vicious. On Sunday, the president tweeted, “I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self serving and FAKE!”
He also called Comey a “slimeball” and liar who “will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
Despite the tweets, Comey continues to promote his book and share his side of the story — a story that is especially important as the Russia investigation continues to close in on Trump’s inner circle. (Trump has repeatedly denied his campaign colluded with Russia.) Comey’s wide-ranging interview with ABC News aired on Sunday and shows Comey discussing the book and his views on the Trump presidency.
“There’s something more important than that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country,” Comey said, according to a transcript of the ABC News interview. “The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”
A Higher Loyalty releases on Tuesday.