Trump slams Comey after new book likens President to mafia boss

President Donald Trump meeting then FBI director James Comey at the White House in January last year. Mr Trump fired Mr Comey last May, complaining of the probe into possible ties between his campaign and Russia. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON • United States President Donald Trump attacked former FBI director James Comey yesterday as a "weak and untruthful slime ball", reacting to news accounts that cited Mr Comey as searingly critical of the President in a memoir due to be published next week.

"It was my great honour to fire James Comey!" Mr Trump said in a series of angry Twitter messages, adding that he had been a terrible Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director.

Mr Trump fired Mr Comey last May, complaining of the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. That firing led to the appointment of special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who has continued to probe the issue, and the President has publicly criticised Mr Comey since then.

Mr Comey is doing a series of media interviews before the release of his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies And Leadership, which hits bookshelves on Tuesday.

Mr Comey said in the book that Mr Trump reminded him of a mafia boss who demanded absolute loyalty, saw the entire world against him and lied about everything.

"This President is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values," he wrote, according to excerpts leaked by US media. "His leadership is transactional, ego-driven and about personal loyalty," he wrote, according to The New York Times.

The US President lives in "a cocoon of alternative reality" that he tries to pull others around him into, The Washington Post reported, citing Mr Comey.

Last year, Mr Comey revealed that Mr Trump had pressured him to drop an investigation into the President's former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and demanded Mr Comey promise his loyalty.

In an interview with ABC broadcast yesterday, Mr Comey discussed his initial encounters last year with the new president, whom he described as volatile and concerned more about his own image than about the alleged Russian meddling. In the first excerpt of the interview, Mr Comey said he cautioned Mr Trump against ordering an investigation into a salacious intelligence dossier alleging a 2013 encounter with prostitutes in Moscow.

In the book, Mr Comey wrote that the President had raised the intelligence dossier with him at least four times during meetings after Mr Trump took office in January. The dossier, compiled by a former British intelligence officer on Mr Trump's ties to Russia, included an allegation that involved him with prostitutes.

Mr Comey told ABC that Mr Trump denied the allegations, and said he might want the FBI to in-vestigate the allegations to prove that they were not true. He said he was worried there was a chance his wife Melania would believe the allegations.

"I said to him, 'Sir, that is up to you, but you want to be careful about that because it might create a narrative that we are investigating you personally and, second, it is very difficult to prove something didn't happen," Mr Comey said. Mr Comey added that the allegations in the dossier had not been verified at the time he left the FBI.

Asked how bizarre that meeting with Mr Trump was, Mr Comey said: "Very weird. Really weird. It was almost an out-of-body experience for me. I was floating above myself looking down saying, 'You are sitting here briefing the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in Moscow'."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'Trump slams Comey after new book likens President to mafia boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe