Former FBI director James B. Comey's memoir hits bookshelves next Tuesday and his blitz of media interviews begins with "20/20" on Sunday. But The Washington Post obtained a copy of “A Higher Loyalty” and published excerpts on Thursday.
Here, we boil down 304 pages to three big takeaways:
1. Comey does not accuse Trump of committing a crime.
The book is sharply critical of the president; Comey, who prosecuted organized-crime leaders earlier in his career, even likens Trump to a mob boss.
But Comey writes, “I have one perspective on the behavior I saw, which while disturbing and violating basic norms of ethical leadership, may fall short of being illegal.”
Comey does not clear Trump of criminal wrongdoing, either, but defers judgment to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Comey's friend and predecessor in the FBI's top post.
2. Trump's ego was bruised by the Steele dossier, particularly the part about paying for sex.
Comey recounts a pre-inauguration briefing in which he outlined for Trump the salacious claims contained in a dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Comey writes that Trump was bothered by one part of the dossier, in particular: an episode involving prostitutes in Moscow.
According to Comey, Trump “strongly denied the allegations, asking — rhetorically, I assumed — whether he seemed like a guy who needed the service of prostitutes.”
(Note that what offended the married Trump, in Comey's telling, was not the charge of infidelity but the suggestion that he would have had to pay for sex.)
This window into the president's ego carries potential implications for his public battles with porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both women say they had consensual affairs with Trump more than a decade ago.
Trump denies the affairs but, if the women's claims are true, the same man who didn't want people to think he needed to hire prostitutes might eventually let slip that his conquests included a one-time Playmate of the Year and one of the biggest names in the adult film industry.
3. Comey describes several conversations that can be corroborated or disputed.
Comey writes that shortly before the 2016 election, after he notified Congress that the FBI had reopened an investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email usage as secretary of state, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch gave him a hug and suggested he had done the right thing.
After Clinton lost the election, Comey writes, President Obama 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.”
Comey writes that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was similarly gracious and said, “I know you. You were in an impossible position.”
And Comey writes that on the day Trump fired him from the FBI, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, now the White House chief of staff, called and said he planned to quit in protest, until Comey talked him out of it.
Obama, Lynch, Schumer, Kelly and others quoted by Comey will surely be asked about their own recollections of conversations with Comey. Whether they back up Comey's accounts could help determine his perceived credibility.