Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

As it happenedended1523635337

James Comey book – live reading: Fired FBI director finally reveals all about the 'pee tape', Trump's hands and more

Find all the highlights and the best summary – as we do

Andrew Griffin
Friday 13 April 2018 15:57 BST
James Comey: 'I don't know if the current president of the United States was peed on by prostitutes in 2013'

James Comey has finally published the book on his time with Donald Trump – showing the White House in some of its most revealing and damaging hours.

The fired FBI director gives an incredibly personal and critical account of the president, including the size of his hands and his panicked reaction to the dossier that claimed there existed a video depicting him engaging in lewd behaviour with sex workers.

The book was intended to be released next week. But with parts of it leaking over the last few hours, its contents are now becoming public – and the world is finally learning deep secrets about two of the most powerful people in the world.

Please allow a moment for the live blog to load


Ready? We're going to dive in!

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:20

This is the second time that we've live blogged the release of an explosive Trump book, by the way. I've a feeling, the way the White House is going, that it won't be the last either.

This time is much the same: explosive, long-awaited book, filled with shocking claims; an angry and critical reaction from Donald Trump.

Now let's see if it's got some of the same bizarre intrigue!

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:20

Just some notes before we start: I'm going to focus, here, on the Trump bits. If that's all done quickly then we'll head into some of the other stuff.

This isn't only a book about Trump, though. Far from it. Comey discusses his early life, his work for previous presidents Clinton and Obama, and his personal philosophy about leadership and ethics.

But that's not what anyone's here for. Let's read about Trump's reaction to the "pee tape" – and more!

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:24

Heading straight into our first mention of Trump. It comes on page 187 – and can you guess what it's about? It's about:

Emails. (I reckon I'm going to be writing that a word a lot.)

Trump hasn't actually arrived in the story yet. He just appears in a flash-forward: Comey is actually talking about the decision to announce that it wasn't recommending charges over the handling of Clinton's emails. But, he notes, Donald Trump would later suggest that he had "saved her" by holding this press conference.

He says he didn't mean to do that. Nor did he mean to "save him" with the announcements on emails that would come later. We get a peek at some of the kind of ethical principles that Comey is going to be leaning a lot in this book, I think: "The goal was to tell the truth and demonstrate what higher loyalty – to the institutions of justice – looks like".

He concludes this chapter with a note that makes it sound like Comey is as weary of hearing the words "her emails" as we are.

"We had tasted the poison of our political system, and I had taken all the hits I anticipated, but I also felt great relief because the FBI and I were finished with Hillary Clinton and her emails.

"If only."

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:32

Next chapter, and into the other great refrain of this book and of life:

The Russians.

The Clinton email case wasn't actually Comey's big concern during this summer 2016, he says – it was actually trying to understand "what the Russians were up to". The intelligence community thought they were trying to influence the election, and they were busy attempting to work out how. In three ways, they reckoned:

  1. Undermining confidence in America and its election process, so that it wouldn't be an inspiration to the rest of the world.
  2. Hurt Hillary Clinton, maybe for personal reasons. Putin didn't like her because he blamed her for demonstrations in Moscow in December 2011. He thought he'd been personally attacked.
  3. "Help Donald Trump win". Comey suggests that they like him because he "had been saying favourable things about the Russian government and Putin had shown a long-standing appreciation for business leaders who cut deals rather than stand on principle".
Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:40

Why didn't Comey say that he and the rest of the establishment suspected the Russians were up to something? Doing so would help "inoculate" the public, he admits.

But it would also help do the job of number one, below – helping to undermine the election before it had even happened.

Obama thought the same, and resisted the idea. His team thought Trump wasn't going to win – Obama himself said that Putin had "backed the wrong horse", says Comey – and so there wasn't any point.

(Later on, the administration did say something. But the FBI's name wasn't on it – because "adding the FBI's name would change nothing and be inconsistent with the way we hoped to operate on the eve of an election", says Comey.)

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:44

We're into the first of what Comey's critics would say was his big mistakes: the decision to announce right before the election that something more had happened with Hillary Clinton's emails. Here's how he tells it:

Someone mentioned in passing that Anthony Weiner had a laptop that might have something to do with Clinton's emails. He doesn't remember the conversation because such a suggestion didn't make sense. Soon after he was asked for a meeting with his team, who told him that actually there were hundreds of thousands of emails from Clinton's personal domain. It had messages they had been looking for for years – early messages that had since been deleted, and which could possibly contain some confirmation she'd been told not to use her own server, or something else incriminating. His team asked for a warrant, he said yes – and one of the most important parts of Comey's life and the US election began.

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:52

Once that had all happened, he writes that he was faced with two choices. He could tell people the investigation had begun – into a candidate who would be fighting an election in a few weeks – or not. As we know now, he decided to speak out – but it's a lot less clear why he did, given it might have knocked Clinton's campaign in such a way that she lost the election.

He said he saw the two options as "speak" and "conceal". He didn't want to conceal – something that would be misleading because he'd told the public the investigation was over. So he decided to speak.

(Here I'm going to butt in: doesn't the FBI conceal all sorts of stuff, all the time? He wasn't even actively concealing anything – just making a decision not to unconceal it. But hey ho – I'm not the FBI director, I'm just your humble book reader. Make your own mind up as we go.)

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:54

Some shocking revelations to come, if my cat is anything to go by.

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 16:58

Some more cat pictures, if that's what you're here for:

Andrew Griffin13 April 2018 17:02

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in