Donald Trump is lashing out at James Comey — again — after the former FBI director claimed in a new book that the president asked him to investigate the alleged existence of the infamous so-called “pee tape,” which purportedly shows Trump watching Russian prostitutes urinate on a Moscow hotel bed in 2013.
Trump, 71, took to his Twitter page on Friday morning to viciously discredit the former FBI director, whom he fired last May.
“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR,” Trump claimed in a series of tweets. “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,” Trump continued. “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!”
Trump’s tweets came as Comey preps to publish his book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership — early copies of which have been sent to numerous news outlets including The Washington Post and The New York Times. On Thursday, the Post reported Comey’s claim that Trump wanted him to investigate the “pee tape” allegations to reassure his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, that he did not watch Russian prostitutes urinate in a Moscow hotel room in 2013, as previously claimed in the Steele dossier, a collection of allegations about Trump’s dealings with Russia.
The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment on the former FBI director’s claims.
Trump was president-elect when Comey first brought up the widely circulated British intelligence dossier containing unconfirmed allegations that in 2013, Russians filmed Trump with prostitutes he had instructed to urinate on the same bed at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton where President Obama once slept.
In his book, Comey writes that Trump denied the allegations about the prostitutes and told him to consider having the FBI investigate them to “prove it was a lie.”
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“[He] brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’ … It bothered him if there was ‘even a one-percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true,” Comey wrote, according to The Washington Post.
Mrs. Trump’s communications director did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
That conversation allegedly took place during a private dinner with Trump at the White House on Jan. 27, 2017. Comey has previously said that Trump demanded “loyalty” from him in the same meeting.
Comey also described the January 2017 meeting in a television interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired on Friday, saying the encounter was “really weird” and “almost an out of body experience.”
“I was floating above myself, looking down, saying, ‘You’re sitting here, briefing the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in Moscow,’ ” Comey said.
As they were discussing the allegations, Comey said Trump “interrupted very defensively and started talking about it, you know, ‘Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?’ And I assumed he was asking that rhetorically. I didn’t answer that, and I just moved on.”
Asked if he believed Trump’s denials, Comey told Stephanopoulos he wasn’t sure.
“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,” Comey said. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.”
Trump brought up the “golden shower” allegations in a follow-up call on Jan. 11, 2017, Comey claimed in his book. “I’m a germaphobe,” Trump allegedly told him. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.”
Trump allegedly raised the subject again in a March 30, 2017 call with Comey. “For about the fourth time, he argued that the golden showers thing wasn’t true, asking yet again, ‘Can you imagine me, hookers?’ ” Comey wrote.”In an apparent play for my sympathy, he added that he has a beautiful wife and the whole thing has been very painful for her. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’ “
Comey said he told Trump that the FBI was investigating it as quickly as possible.
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Trump’s firing of Comey in May marked the second time in American history that an FBI Director has been fired by a sitting president. In 1993, Bill Clinton fired William Sessions following allegations from the Department of Justice that he had abused his power in office.
At the time, Trump — through then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer — said his decision to fire Comey was based on recommendations from the top ranking officials in the Justice Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Trump concurred with this assessment, according to a copy of the letter he sent Comey, agreeing that Comey was unable to “effectively lead the bureau.” Trump wrote: “It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”
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But later, Trump admitted that he fired Comey because of the former FBI director’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.
“I was gonna fire him regardless of the recommendation,” Trump told NBC’s Lestor Holt in May. “He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it!”
“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won,’ ” Trump added. “And the reason they should’ve won it is, the Electoral College is almost impossible for a Republican to win, it’s very hard, because you start off at such a disadvantage. So everybody was thinking they should have won the election. This was an excuse for having lost an election.”