In his first TV interview since his firing in May, former FBI director James Comey talked about working under President Trump, and specifically, what it was like discussing the infamous "pee tape" allegation with the incoming president in January. Comey said informing Trump about the pee tape was an "out-of-body experience," adding that Trump "very defensively" insisted that the allegations weren't true.
“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, and he interrupted very defensively and started talking about it, you know, ‘Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?’” Comey told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. “And I assumed he was asking that rhetorically. I didn’t answer that, and I just moved on.”
In an unconfirmed intelligence report sometimes called the "Steele dossier," Trump was accused of hiring prostitutes in Moscow to urinate on a hotel room bed that Barack and Michelle Obama once slept in. The report also alleged that Russian intelligence may have a recording of the encounter. Trump and the White House deny the allegations.
Stephanopoulos' full interview with Comey will air on Sunday, but ABC released a clip on Friday.
Comey elaborated on his "out-of-body experience" as he recalled the January conversation in which he informed Trump, then the president-elect, of the Steele dossier's allegations. "I was floating above myself, looking down, saying, ‘You’re sitting here, briefing the incoming president of the United States about prostitutes in Moscow.'"
According to Comey, Trump claimed that he wanted the pee tape allegation disproved because he was concerned that Melania might be upset if she thought it was true, a comment Comey found odd.
"He says he may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn't happen," Comey said of their meeting on Jan. 27. "He said, if there's even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that's true, that's terrible. 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?'"
Comey added that, if he himself was the subject of a similar allegation, he wouldn't have convince his own wife of his innocence.
"I'm a flawed human being, but there's literally zero chance my wife would think that was true," Comey said. "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?"
Although Comey has generally been tight-lipped since Trump fired him in May, he interviewed with Stephanopoulos for five hours to promote his new book, A Higher Loyalty, which comes out Tuesday. Several media outlets published excerpts from the book earlier in the week, and many of them touched on the same topics Comey discussed in the Stephanopoulos interview.
In A Higher Loyalty, Comey says that Trump brought up the pee tape allegation an average of once a month when they were working together. He writes that Trump often seemed intent on convincing Comey personally that the allegations weren't true, at several points insisting that, as a self-identified "germaphobe," he couldn't have possibly paid prostitutes to urinate on a hotel room bed. Comey muses in the book, "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."
The book is not solely focused on the pee tape, but rather Comey's cumulative experiences handling the Hillary Clinton investigation and working under Trump. According to the leaked excerpts, he accuses Trump of "violating basic norms of ethical leadership" during his presidency, and says that interacting him reminded of when he used to prosecute mob bosses.