We called it.
Last night, here at The Political Insider, we reported that the fabled memos of former FBI Director James Comey outlining his discussions and meetings with President Trump would be released to Congress. In the piece, we noted that you shouldn’t “count on the substance of the memos to remain a secret from the public for very long either.”
Just like clockwork, some of the memos were leaked last night, revealing Comey’s deeply-held memories about his talks with President Trump. And we’re just learning that Comey may have revealed that President Trump was set up in one meeting in order to have the infamous Trump dossier, which documented Trump frequenting Russian prostitutes, reported in the press.
Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist reports:
Newly released memos written by former FBI director James Comey indicate that an early 2017 briefing for then-President-elect Donald Trump about the contents of an infamous dossier was held so it could be leaked to media outlets eager to report on the dossier’s allegations. In multiple memos, Comey specifically mentioned that CNN had the dossier and wanted a “news hook” that would enable the network to report on its most salacious allegations even though they had not been verified.
“I said the Russians allegedly had tapes involving him and prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow from about 2013,” Comey wrote of his conversation with Trump in a classified memo that was released in redacted form late Thursday. “I said I wasn’t saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands.”
No media organizations had reported the allegations at the time Comey briefed Trump.
OK, so how does this work? The “pee” dossier was first reported on in full by BuzzFeed. But, BuzzFeed only reported the dossier after a significant CNN story was published vaguely referencing the collection of salacious documents. It was the CNN story that was the impetus for releasing the dossier to the public.
We know CNN was looking for an excuse to run the probing story about the dossier. Comey admits in a memo they needed a “news hook.” That news hook, it appears, was Comey’s briefing Trump on the matter.
“I said there was something that Clapper wanted me to speak to the [president-elect] about alone or in a very small group,” Comey wrote. More on that in a bit.
“I then executed the session exactly as I had planned,” Comey noted before going into details of what he claimed he told the president-elect. He wrote that he told him about the now-infamous prostitute pee-pee videotape claims contained in the dossier. Then he wrote:
“I said I wasn’t saying this was true, only that I wanted him to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands. I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuses to write that the FBI has the material or [REDACTED] and that we were keeping it very close-hold. He said he couldn’t believe they hadn’t gone with it. I said it was inflammatory stuff that they would get killed for reporting straight up from the source reports.”
Hemingway continues, writing, “So Comey, at Clapper’s expressed behest, told Trump that CNN was ‘looking for a news hook’ to publish dossier allegations. He said this in the briefing of Trump that almost immediately leaked to CNN, which provided them the very news hook they sought and needed. This briefing, and the leaking of it, legitimized the dossier, which touched off the Russia hysteria.”
Sounds awfully sneaky, right?
What do you think? Did Comey set up Trump so that the infamous dossier would leak? Tell us your thoughts below!