President Donald Trump accused fired FBI director James Comey on Wednesday of trying to create leverage with a dossier alleged to contain compromising information about the president.
Comey’s apparent goal in a pre-inauguration encounter with Trump in which the veteran law enforcement official presented details of the dossier was to pressure the soon-to-be-president into letting him keep his job, Trump alleged an interview with the New York Times.
Trump said that about two weeks before his inauguration in January, Comey and other officials briefed him in New York on what US intelligence agencies say was Russian meddling in the election, with the goal of helping Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.
According to the president, Comey later pulled him aside and told him about a dossier compiled by a former British spy and alleged to contain embarrassing details about the president, including unsubstantiated claims that Russians possess videos involving Trump and prostitutes.
Trump said he thinks Comey told him about the dossier — which Trump dismissed as “made-up junk” — to suggest he had something to hold over the president.
“In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump said.
Asked if he thought Comey was seeking leverage over him, Trump said, “Yeah, I think so.”
In testimony before lawmakers, Comey said he told Trump about the dossier so that the real estate mogul would not be blindsided when it was reported in the media.
Trump fired Comey in May and later said he had the FBI’s Russia investigation in mind when he did it.
Trump critics point to the dismissal as evidence of obstruction of justice, a potentially impeachable offense.
The Times said the interview with Trump was wide-ranging but dominated by talk of the Russia probe.