What You Need to Know: Highlights from the Comey Memos

Shortly after the Justice Department agreed to demands to send the memos written by former FBI Director James Comey to Congress, they were leaked to the media.

The memos detail interactions and conversations between Comey and President Donald Trump in the month leading up to Comey’s firing, and while much of the information was already known, a few intriguing details shed light on both men’s views on the Russia investigation, the FBI and the media.

Here are four highlights from the 15-page document.

Trump’s Comments About Russian Prostitutes

“What follows are notes I typed in the vehicle immediately upon exiting Trump Tower on 1/6/17,” Comey writes at the beginning of the first memo.

He went on to notify the recently-elected president about allegations of a sexual encounter between Trump and Russian prostitutes. The allegations included claims that Trump watched two prostitutes urinate on each other

Comey said that a British spy had compiled a dossier for the FBI that claims the Russian government has tapes of the incident.

Trump bristled at the allegations and strongly denied them, saying “there were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes” and suggesting that he was “the kind of guy who didn’t need to ‘go there.'”

On a separate occasion, Comey says Trump brought up “the golden showers thing,” again denying it. Trump apparently added that Putin once told him “we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.”

Comey says he assured the president that he’s not saying the claims were true but that “our job was to protect the President from efforts to coerce him.”

While some information is redacted, Comey seems to suggest that some of the claims made in the dossier “was consistent with and corroborated by other intelligence, and that the incoming president needed to know the rest of it was out there.” He doesn’t specifically talk about the veracity of the Russian prostitutes episode.

Reince Priebus Asks About Michael Flynn

According to Comey’s memos, then Chief of Staff Reince Priebus directly asked him whether the FBI had wiretapped Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

After reports suggesting that Flynn had spoken to Russian officials sparked concern that Russian influence within the White House, Priebus wanted to know how the information was obtained.

While Comey’s immediate response is redacted, he goes on to explain the proper method for submitting such requests to the Justice Department, which he said should be routed through the White House counsel’s office.

“I explained that it was important that communications about any particular case go through that channel to protect us and to protect the W.H. from any accusations of improper influence,” Comey writes.

Flynn later pled guilty to misleading members of the Trump administration about his connections to Russia, after Trump told Comey that he has “serious reservations about Mike Flynn’s judgment.”

Trump Asks About Andrew McCabe

Comey describes multiple occasions during which the president brought up FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who Trump had criticized on the campaign trail after his wife, Jill, received donations for her Senate campaign from the Clintons.

Comey says Trump asked him if McCabe “had a problem,” adding that “I was pretty rough on him and his wife during the campaign.”

Comey responded by assuring Trump that McCabe and the FBI as a whole are professionals who set aside personal gripes for the job.

“I explained that Andy was a true professional and had no problem at all,” Comey wrote. “I then explained what F.B.I. people were like, that whatever their personal views, they strip them when they step into their bureau roles and actually hold ‘political people’ in slight contempt without regard to party.”

McCabe was later fired from the FBI after the Justice Department found that he misled federal investigators.

Discussions About How to Stop Leakers

Both Comey and Trump expressed their frustration about information that was leaked to the media, and talked about ways to deter it from happening in the future.

“I said I was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the door as a message,” Comey said. “I said something about it being difficult and he replied that we need to go after the reporters and referred to the fact that 10 or 15 years ago, we put them in jail to find what they know and it worked.”

After receiving sharp criticism for many bits of leaked information related to the Russia probe and his personal life, Trump stressed that the leaks must stop. Comey says he agreed but that it can be complicated, to which Trump responded that he should speak to Attorney General Jeff Sessions about enforcing tougher restrictions on leakers.

“I explained that I was a fan of pursuing leaks aggressively but that going after reporters was tricky, for legal reasons and because D.O.J. tends to approach it conservatively.”

In addition to the new tidbits of information contained in the memos, Comey also offers more complete descriptions of previously reported information, providing key context to moments that the special counsel in the Russia probe have been poring over for the past few months.

And as an unredacted version is expected to be sent to Congress on Friday, new information could still emerge.

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