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Koronowski writes: "It's possible that Russian officials have collateral on President Donald Trump, former FBI Director James Comey said during an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos."

James Comey on ABC News. (photo: ABC News)
James Comey on ABC News. (photo: ABC News)

7 Eye-Opening Comments Related to Russia From James Comey's ABC News Interview

By Ryan Koronowski, ThinkProgress

16 April 18

Kompromat, Papadopoulos, and golden showers all came up during the five-hour interview.

t’s possible that Russian officials have collateral on President Donald Trump, former FBI Director James Comey said during an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

On Sunday night, ABC News aired a one-hour special featuring segments from a much longer interview with the former intelligence official, along with other vignettes and backstory setting the stage for Comey’s blockbuster book which is set to be released on Tuesday. The network also published a transcript of the full five-hour interview.

In it, Comey made some stunning statements about President Trump’s relationship with Russia.

Possible ‘kompromat’ on Trump

Comey acknowledged that it is possible that Russia has compromising information about the president.

“Do you think the Russians have something on Donald Trump?” asked Stephanopoulos.

“I think it’s possible,” Comey said. “I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible.”

“That’s stunning,” Stephanopoulos replied. “You can’t say for certain that the president of the United States is not compromised by the Russians?”

“It is stunning and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s just– it’s the truth,” Comey said. “I cannot say that. It always struck me and still strikes me as unlikely, and I would have been able to say with high confidence about any other president I dealt with, but I can’t. It’s possible.”

Papadopoulos sparked the FBI’s Trump investigation, not the Steele dossier

In an attempt to delegitimize the intelligence community’s ongoing Russia investigation, conservatives have asserted that the FBI only began its investigation into the Trump campaign because of the Steele dossier, a controversial memo based on investigative efforts funded first by Republican opponents of Trump and then by Democrats. In fact, it was information first shared by indicted former campaign aide George Papadopoulos that alerted the FBI to possible connections between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“What impact did the Steele — the so-called Steele dossier have on the FBI investigation? Did that trigger the FBI investigation in any way?” asked Stephanopoulos.

Comey replied definitively: “No. No, in fact, as I said, the information that triggered it was the Papadopoulos information that came in late July. The FBI didn’t get any information that’s part of the so-called Steele dossier, as I understand it, until after that. And so the investigation was triggered entirely separately from the Steele dossier.”

This was what prompted the FBI to begin its investigation.

Trump didn’t criticize Putin in private

Comey said that Trump’s refusal to criticize Putin even in private “mystified” him:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And the refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin?
JAMES COMEY: I don’t know what’s behind that. I mean, that’s– that mystified me even after President Trump became president ’cause I discovered that he wouldn’t criticize him even in private, which– I can understand a president making a geopolitical decision that, “I ought not to criticize an adversary country’s leader for some reason publicly.” But I discovered President Trump wouldn’t even do it privately, and I don’t know why that is.

Later, asked again about Trump shying away from criticizing Putin, Comey said, “I’m struck by it and I’m struck by it both in public and in private.” He noted that there are diplomatic and strategic reasons to withhold criticism of a foreign leader in public, even when that leader attacks the United States.

“But you would think that in private — talking to the FBI director, whose job it is to thwart Russian attacks, you might acknowledge that this enemy of ours is an enemy of ours,” Comey concluded. “But I never saw. And so I don’t know the reason. I really don’t.”

President-elect Trump did not ask about how to stop future Russian attacks

After explaining his first meeting with Trump as president-elect, where the intelligence community briefed him and his incoming aides on the Russian efforts to attack American democratic institutions, Comey noted that he was struck by what Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and other aides did not ask:

No one, to my recollection, asked, “So what– what’s coming next from the Russians?” You’re about to lead a country that has an adversary attacking it and I don’t remember any questions about, “So what are they going to do next, how might we stop it? What’s the future look like? Because we’ll be custodians of the security of this country.” There was none of that. It was all, “What can we say about what they did and how it affects the election that we just had.”

The Russian foreign minister meeting alone with Trump in the Oval Office is ‘crazy’

The day after Trump fired Comey, he met with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador alone in the Oval Office, and let slip sensitive Israeli intelligence while also calling Comey a “nut job.” Comey said he found it “crazy” that Americans were present.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The day after you were fired– president is meeting in the Oval Office with the Russian foreign minister. Calls you a nut job. Says the pressure’s been relieved now, the pressure on him has been relieved. What did you think when you saw that?
JAMES COMEY: Wow, was my reaction. First of all, what are the Russians doing in the Oval Office? One, as a counter intelligence person I’m thinking, “That’s crazy–” without any Americans being present, one. And, two, it– the pretense is melting away, the bit about, “You were fired because of how you handled the e-mail investigation,” is melting away. You were fired because of the Russia investigation. That’s the substance of what I heard those words as.

Comey cannot rule out the possibility that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians

Asked if he thought “people tied to President Trump colluded with the Russians,” Comey said, “I don’t know is the honest answer.” He said the FBI was investigating the matter when Trump fired him. “Was anyone aiding the Russians, conspiring with the Russians? There’s no doubt there was smoke around that. Whether there’s fire, I — I didn’t stay long enough to know.”

Donald Trump is weirdly obsessed with the most salacious allegation in the dossier

Of all the revelations detailed in the Steele dossier, the one that raised the most eyebrows involved peeing prostitutes, a hotel room in Russia, and a video. Its mere inclusion in the leaked memo caused many to discredit the whole document, but according to Comey, Trump himself was strangely fixated on it.

During one of his first encounters with Trump, Comey briefed him about the memo.

“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,” said Comey.

Trump’s response was characteristically self-serving, asking Comey if he looked like someone who would “need hookers.” And, unprompted, Trump later returned to the allegation of a so-called “golden shower,” suggesting the FBI set about to disprove it.

“He brings it up and says he may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn’t happen,” said Comey. “And then he says– something that distracted me. ‘Cause he said, you know, “If there’s even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that’s true, that’s terrible.”

“And I– 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 there’s only a 99 percent chance you didn’t do that?” your social media marketing partner


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-5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-16 09:41
"Asked if he thought “people tied to President Trump colluded with the Russians,” Comey said, “I don’t know is the honest answer.”

So after more than years of investigation by the FBI, DOJ, CIA, NSA and all of the major media investigative journaists in the US and UK, the best he's got is "I don't know." If there was a crime, Comey and all of us would know about it.

We do know that there were election crimes, as in the usual republican vote tampering in purging voter roles, altering vote counts on electronic machines, intimidating certain groups, and more. These are real crimes and they did happen. Very likely they gave the election to Trump. But Comey does not seem to know anything about these either. And this is the person who headed the FBI for three years, the most powerful investigative organization in human history?

Comey is a waste product. After all his huffing and puffing, he's got nothing.
0 # Texas Aggie 2018-04-16 18:52
Years and years? Drumpf fired Comey less than a year after the election. But you knew that.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-17 09:36
sorry, I meant to write "more than a year." The investigation of Trump by the FBI began in May 2016, so we are coming up on two years. Comey handed it over to Mueller in May of 2017. The timeline is getting very hard to keep straight.
+2 # laborequalswealth 2018-04-17 11:17
On target again, RR, but the so-call "left" in America has a hard-on for Trump - even when he talks sense like, e.g. NOT starting WWIII with Russia.

That American's are still buying the patently obvious lies does not bode well for America's future.

Meanwhile, as you point out, the plutocracy is stealing elections left,right and center - and NO ONE is getting headlines about it.

America the Stupid.
-2 # laborequalswealth 2018-04-16 11:25
This is the most outrageous piece of bunkum yet. No FACTS just sneers and inuendo.

In what insane universe should the President NOT be trying to make peace with Russia???? The neocons and neolibs are doing their evil best to start World War III - against the people who defeated the Nazis. Disgusting. Utterly contemptible.
+1 # librarian1984 2018-04-16 15:06
I saw a 'journalist' today actually say, "If Donald Trump is going to push so hard to get troops out of the fight against ISIS ..."!

Lindsey Graham has already said the strike was too weak. He taunted the MIIC, saying the Pentagon is 'risk averse' and 'deathly afraid'. What, is he trying to cheer up his ol' war buddy McCain, give him a little nuclear exchange as a pleasant send-off?

And they say TRUMP is crazy?

It's the left that's gone insane, starting with election night. Snowflakes who still can't get their heads out of their arses and fight this agenda that's getting through. Happily in denial and wallowing in self-pity while people are actually suffering.

It wasn't Trump who just voted to deregulate the big banks. It was the GOP .. WITH 19 DEMOCRATS. The same people who are telling us we can't afford healthcare or free college. How about we worry about THAT.

The press isn't even pretending to be unbiased anymore. Oh no big deal.

Sneers seems to be the look for 2018, all the way to Armageddon.

As far as I know most of the readers here don't have bomb shelters. Maybe they should jump off the crazy bus.
+2 # lfeuille 2018-04-16 18:33
Red herring. What he did with Russia is the least of it.
0 # librarian1984 2018-04-16 11:29
One doesn't have to love or hate Trump to see this book and interview as unprecedented and bizarre. Comey is a former Deputy AG and intelligence director -- why is he out there WHILE THERE'S AN ACTIVE INVESTIGATION going on? I can't imagine he's doing Mueller any good.

Why is he speculating about things he admits he doesn't know about? Most nonfiction authors and journalists know not to do that, and you'd think his career would have taught him not to. It sounds like there's no new information in this book, so why is he out there NOW?

He says Russia MAY have something on Trump BUT HE DOESN'T KNOW which makes any speculation seem remarkable, and that he can't say that about any other president -- I call bs on that. Most if not all have got things to hide.

Plus, what was with all the odd petty bits, about hand size and orange skin? It was really strange, particularly coming from a Dudley Do-Right like Comey.

He seems to hate Trump so much he's lost all perspective or sense of circumspection. It seems very unlike Comey. There truly IS Trump Derangement Syndrome. It's a real thing.

Bring on the thumbs down for not expressing sufficient enough hatred, but where were all you people when W and Cheney were shredding the Constitution? I really do not get that. So Hitler can operate as long as he (or she) has good manners?

Comey denied he leaked -- but didn't he already admit he'd given information to a personal friend at some point?
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-16 16:56
Comey is part of the non-stop two-minutes of hate against Trump that is being organized by the Deep State. So everyone looks at Trump and gnashes their teeth with revulsion and hate. They don't look at or even see Comey. His weird obsessions, comments, and speculations are all just red meat to a savage hatred appetite.

But Comey has a very inexplainable background himself. He was brought into the Justice Dept. by Bush as Assistant Attny General under Ashcroft. He oversaw the Valerie Plame case which convicted Scooter Libby but deflected all blame away from Cheney, the real culprit.

Then in 2005, he suddenly leaves the DOJ to become the general counsel for Locheed Martin, just as Locheed fell under a Justice Dept. investigation for defrauding the Pentagon out of many, many billions of dollars. In 2012, he was named to the Board of Directors of HBSC, just as that company was charged by the Justice Dept for laundering many billions of dollars in Mexican drug money.

In both cases the Justice Dept. reduced its charges and did not charge any executives. In the HBSC case, the crime of money laundering was not mentioned but a $1.9 billion fine was assessed. Both of these cases ended in 2013 and Comey was quickly shifted over to the FBI as director.

You have to wonder if his connections at the DOJ was the reason he was tapped by Locheed Martin and HBSC. Did he ask colleagues to go easy on these cases, as he says Trump asked him to do in Flynn's case?
0 # lfeuille 2018-04-16 18:35
Trumps behavior is unprecedented and bizarre so of course the responses to it will be. Comey is no longer a government official. He can say what he wants.
-2 # Texas Aggie 2018-04-16 18:55
here were all you people when W and Cheney were shredding the Constitution?

Screaming and yelling about it.

The only thing he "leaked" was a nonconfidential , nonclassified memo that he wrote himself. That hardly classifies as a "leak."
0 # librarian1984 2018-04-16 14:52
Oh, I took a fortunetelling course over the weekend and here's my prediction:

Farfallen: Oh I see the usual Trump trolls are here. How much are you getting paid?

Harry: RR was first! I want to be first! Waa! He must be a Satan worshipper .. er, communist .. er Putin puppet!

Farfallen: Psst. Trump puppet, you idiot!

Harry: !!

RMF: Well the judicio-artifar tsian commemoplurativ es mean Bernie Sanders is unfit to be president. I used to be for him. I'm really progressive. Realy really a lot. But now I.'m a neoliberal and I blame Bernie.

ericlipps: And he kept my beloved sweet saint Hillary from achieving her true potential: queen of my heart, empress of America.

Hillary: Did somebody ask to hear about What Happened? I'll tell you what happened. It wasn't my fault, that's what!

Progressives, en masse: SHUT UP! Go Away!

Farfallen: I'm making a list!
-2 # BetaTheta 2018-04-16 19:39
Comey has been something of a “showboat” and is maintaining too high a profile during this investigation, but he still has more integrity in his little toe than Trump has in his whole corpus.

And Comey does have important input: All his interactions with Trump. His version is vociferously denied by the president, and anyone who takes Trump’s word over his has a serious problem with reality. His picture of Trump is of a piece with everything else we know, and adds up to a decidedly criminal personality. As for all the legal niceties, one can be quite sure Mueller is sewing up many of those.
-3 # DongiC 2018-04-16 20:45
The trolls are active as one would expect. Their new person to hate is James Comey replacing their favorite target, Hillary Clinton. They refuse to accept the findings of our intelligence agencies that the Russians are our opponents who meddle in our elections and who do not wish us well. They can't accept the fact that Trump's behavior viz a viz the Russians is highly suspicious. he never criticizes Putin nor does he ever find fault with the way they do things, like messing up our elections. Neither can they accept the Steele dossier re Trump's outrageous behavior in Moscow in 2013. Steele was one of England's top spies. I think he is a lot more knowledgeable in gathering intelligence than our homegrown experts.

Face it guys and girls, Trump is a moral train wreck as I am sure the Cohen tapes will reveal as do his actions with the porno queens, the playmate of the year and the dozen or so women who have accused him of sexual improprieties. Mix in some threats for talking about his escapades with certain women and you got quite a picture of how a president should not behave.

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