Political observers are waiting with baited breath for A Higher Loyalty, the forthcoming memoir by fired FBI Director James Comey about working under President Trump. The book doesn't come out until April 17, but according to leaked excerpts published in the Washington Post and the New York Post, Trump and Comey talked about the pee tape multiple times before Comey's firing in May, and Trump said he considered asking Comey to investigate it.
The "pee tape," for the unfamiliar, refers to an unconfirmed allegation in an intelligence report that Trump, during a trip to Moscow in 2013, hired Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed that President Obama had slept in — and that the Russian government may have video of this happening. Trump has referred to these allegations as "fake news."
In his memoir, Comey says that Trump brought up the pee tape with him on no fewer than four occasions, or an average of once a month before Trump fired Comey in May.
“I’m a germaphobe,” Trump insisted at one point, according to Comey. “There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.”
Comey also writes that Trump considered asking him to investigate the allegations.
"He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie," Comey says in the book. "I said it was up to him."
Comey elaborates, explaining that Trump said he wanted the allegations disproved for Melania's sake.
During the same dinner, at which the president demanded "loyalty" from the FBI director, Trump also brought up what he called "the golden showers thing," and said "it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought [the pee tape claim] was true." In A Higher Loyalty, Comey wonders to himself why Trump thought there was any chance at all, even a small one, that Melania might believe the allegations.
"In what kind of marriage, to what kind of man, does a spouse conclude there is only a 99 percent chance her husband didn’t do that?" Comey writes, adding that there is "zero chance" his own wife would ever believe a claim like that.
Comey notes that Trump often denied the pee tape claims moments before or after denying other allegations made against him. In one instance, Trump insisted that he had not mocked disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski at a campaign rally in 2016, then denied having sexually assaulted Jessica Leeds on an airplane, then denied having assaulted another woman, and then, finally, denied that the pee tape was real.
Comey says that when he first informed Trump of the reports of a pee tape, Trump “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes."
"He then began discussing cases where women had accused him of sexual assault, a subject I had not raised," Comey continues. "He mentioned a number of women, and seemed to have memorized their allegations.”
Of course, A Higher Loyalty also contains many juicy tidbits about Comey's tenure under Trump that have nothing to do with the pee tape. In general, the former FBI director doesn't cast the president in a positive light. At various points, he compares Trump to a mob boss, describes his presidency as a "forest fire" and accuses him of "violating basic norms of ethical leadership," according to the leaked excerpts.
Still, Comey does write extensively about Trump's reaction to reports of the pee tape. During one phone call, he writes, Trump sought to convince him that the allegation couldn't possibly be true because, during that 2013 visit to Moscow, Trump hadn't spent the night in the hotel room in question.
“I decided not to tell him that the activity alleged did not seem to require either an overnight stay or even being in proximity to the participants,” Comey writes. “In fact, though I didn’t know for sure, I imagined the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow was large enough for a germaphobe to be at a safe distance from the activity.”