Donald Trump has called the former FBI director James Comey a “weak and untruthful slime ball” after his new book made a string of damning claims about the president.
Mr Trump said Mr Comey, who he fired last May, should be prosecuted for leaking while in office as other White House figures questioned the ex-intelligence official’s integrity.
The furious response followed a string of details from Mr Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty, emerging ahead of its publication on Tuesday.
In the book, a copy of which The Telegraph has obtained, Mr Trump is depicted as an “unethical” bully who is “untethered to truth” and has little regard for the institutions of US democracy.
TRUMP COMPARED TO MOBSTER
Mr Comey compares the president to a mob boss, writing: "The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview.”
“The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organisation above morality and above the truth."
ORANGE FACE, FAKE TAN
He mocks the president’s physical appearance, saying his face was “slightly orange with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles”.
Mr Comey also jokes about Mr Trump’s hand size, recalling: "As he extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so."
He also writes when asked by Mr Trump to pledge loyalty: "I stared at the soft white pouches under his expressionless blue eyes. I remember thinking in that moment that the president doesn’t understand the FBI’s role in American life."
‘GOLDEN SHOWER’ CLAIMS
Elsewhere Mr Comey describes Mr Trump’s fixation on claims he got prostitutes to urinate on each other in Russia – an allegation detailed by Christopher Steele, the ex-MI6 agent, which has always been denied.
He recalls the president saying “I’m a germaphobe. There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me, no way” and asking if he “seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes”.
Mr Comey told ABC: “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible but I don’t know.”
HILLARY CLINTON EMAIL SCANDAL
The former FBI director ruminates in the book on his handling of the Hillary Clinton email scandal, which he announced had been reopened 11 days before the US 2016 election, boosting Mr Trump’s campaign.
Mr Comey admits he thought Ms Clinton would win at the time but defends how he acted, saying Barack Obama reassured him after Mr Trump won that he had acted with “integrity”.
Mr Comey writes that Mr Obama sat alone with him in the Oval Office in late November, after Mr Trump had been elected, and told him: “I picked you to be FBI director because of your integrity and your ability. I want you to know that nothing — nothing — has happened in the last year to change my view.”
On the verge of tears, Mr Comey told Mr Obama: “Boy, were those words I needed to hear . . . I’m just trying to do the right thing.”
“I know,” Mr Obama said. “I know.”
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RUSSIA ELECTION MEDDLING RESPONSE
The president’s response to Russia’s election meddling is also questioned. Mr Comey says when he detailed what the Kremlin had done Mr Trump begun discussing how to spin the news rather than how to stop such attacks in the future.
Mr Comey also repeated claims that the president asked for him to pledge loyalty at a dinner between the pair, saying he felt Mr Trump wanted to establish a “patronage relationship”.
"They were about to lead a country that had been attacked by a foreign adversary, yet they had no questions about what the future Russian threat might be," Mr Comey writes.
Instead they discussing how to "spin what we’d just told them".
JOHN KELLY AND TRUMP
Mr Comey claims in his memoir that John Kelly, who was at the time the head of the department of homeland security, called him within minutes of his dismissal to offer his support.
Mr Comey writes that Mr Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, was “emotional” over the manner in which he was fired.
He went on to say that he “intended to quit” in protest because “he didn’t want to work for dishonourable people” in a pointed reference to Mr Trump.
Mr Comey claims to have encouraged Mr Kelly, a retired general, to stay in post telling him “this president”, more than his predecessors, needed people of principle and integrity around him.
TRUMP HITS BACK
The book, which has been much-anticipated in Washington, triggered a heated response from Mr Trump on Twitter:
James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired. He leaked CLASSIFIED information, for which he should be prosecuted. He lied to Congress under OATH. He is a weak and…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2018
….untruthful slime ball who was, as time has proven, a terrible Director of the FBI. His handling of the Crooked Hillary Clinton case, and the events surrounding it, will go down as one of the worst “botch jobs” of history. It was my great honor to fire James Comey!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2018
Kellyanne Conway, a counsellor to the president, described Mr Comey as “self-aggrandising” and a “disgruntled ex-employee”, questioning why he did not quit at the time of Mr Trump’s alleged behaviour.
On Friday Mr Trump also pardoned Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former adviser to vice president Dick Cheney convicted over a scandal about the leaking of a CIA officer’s identity. Commentators noted it was Mr Comey who appointed the special counsel in that case.