Comey has a new opinion of the alleged Trump-Russia ‘pee tape’
Chuck Ross, DCNF
James Comey said in an interview published on Tuesday that he believes it is “more likely” now than when he was fired from the FBI in 2017 that the Kremlin has a blackmail tape of Donald Trump with prostitutes, as is alleged in the infamous Steele dossier.
In an interview with The Guardian, Comey said he still does not know whether the tape of Trump exists. Comey briefed then-President-elect Trump on Jan. 6, 2017, about allegations contained in the dossier that the Russian government had a tape of Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013.
Christopher Steele, a former British spy, put the allegation in a dossier that the FBI used as part of its investigation of the Trump campaign.
Comey, who is on tour to promote a new book, has previously said that he had no idea by the time he was fired as FBI director whether Trump was with prostitutes in Moscow or whether Russian operatives filmed it. But in the interview with The Guardian, he said that recent developments have led him to hedge more towards believing that a tape exists.
Part of Comey’s assessment appears to rely on a misinterpretation of comments from Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for Donald Trump who has since testified against his old boss.
“I actually think the Senate intelligence committee report, coupled with [former Trump lawyer] Michael Cohen’s account in his book, probably makes the ‘pee tape’ stuff more likely than it was when I was fired,” Comey told The Guardian.
Contrary to Comey’s remarks, Cohen has testified before Congress that he did not believe that a tape of Trump ever existed.
“I’ve heard about these tapes for a long time, I’ve had many people contact me over the years, I have no reason to believe that that tape exists,” Cohen testified in a House hearing on Feb. 27, 2019.
Cohen, who pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe and in an investigation into his taxes conducted in New York, said he looked into allegations about a possible tape but determined that one likely did not exist.
Cohen has other reasons to doubt the veracity of the dossier, which author Steele compiled on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Steele alleged in the dossier that Cohen traveled to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders to pay off hackers who stole emails from Democrats in 2016.
Cohen vehemently denied the allegation after the dossier was published on Jan. 10, 2017. He was vindicated by the special counsel’s report, which said that Cohen never visited Prague.
The report also said that no Trump associates conspired with Russia, or aided the hacking or release of stolen emails.
Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst who was Steele’s primary source for the dossier, told FBI agents in January 2017, months before Comey was fired, that he was unable to verify the allegation about Trump with prostitutes.
An inspector general’s report said that the FBI received evidence in February 2017 that the allegation about Trump may have been the product of Russian disinformation.