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Farrow: Tabloid paid doorman, buried story

Ronan Farrow, the reporter who broke the news that American Media Inc. reportedly paid a former Trump building doorman to silence a rumor, says the latest story establishes a pattern in silencing accusers.

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 7:17 PM
Updated: Apr 15, 2018 7:17 PM

It is nothing less than the most devastating, contemporaneous takedown of a sitting president in modern history.

The James Comey storm, brewing menacingly on the horizon for months, slammed into the White House just after 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, as the first leaks of the fired FBI director's explosive new book started gushing out.

Proving that revenge is a dish best served cold, Comey waited 11 months to exact his retribution for his dismissal by President Donald Trump last May. When it came it was unsparing, richly detailed and mortifying for the President.

He painted Trump as a relentless liar who is obsessively unethical, devoid of humanity and a slave to his ego, who is clueless about his job and unconcerned about a Russian assault on American democracy.

Jabbing the President in a strikingly personal way, Comey noted the size of Trump's hands, said his skin looked orange and described white rings around his eyes from tanning goggles.

But Comey isn't just out to hurt Trump's feelings. He is on a more profound mission: His book is a parable about the threat from a brazen President who demands a warped concept of loyalty and has only disdain for the rule of law.

"Hell hath no fury like an FBI director scorned," former Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore said on CNN.

CNN obtained a copy of the book and corroborated news reports about Comey's highly anticipated recounting of his time in the Trump administration.

In one staggering part of the book, "A Higher Loyalty," Comey said dealing with Trump reminded him of his days prosecuting Mafia kingpins with their "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 organization above morality and above the truth."

"What is happening now is not normal. ... It is not fake news. It is not okay," he writes, sketching a brutal, feudal world that seems incompatible with traditional perceptions of the presidency.

Trump lashed out at Comey in a tweet on Friday morning, living up to his creed of swift retaliation.

"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," Trump tweeted. "He is a weak and 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!"

In first excerpts of an interview with ABC News that will air this weekend, Comey says that the President asked him to disprove allegations contained in the Steele dossier that he had a salacious encounter with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel.

"And then he says something that distracted me because he said, you know, 'If there's even a one percent chance my wife thinks that's true, that's terrible,'" Comey told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "And I remember thinking, 'How could your wife think there's a one percent chance you were with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow?' I'm a flawed human being, but there is literally zero chance that my wife would think that was true. So, what kind of marriage to what kind of man does your wife think (that) there's only a 99 percent chance you didn't do that?"

All presidents are vulnerable to tell-alls by disgruntled former insiders that expose the enmities, gaffes and scandals of their West Wings. Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton all experienced indictments by disillusioned staffers.

Yet no commander in chief in modern memory has had to endure the humiliation heaped on Trump by Comey, who argues that the President saw the FBI as a personal investigative service bound to do his bidding.

Comes amid other bad news for Trump

Besieged by scandals, fast-worsening legal entanglements and wrestling with a life and death decision on whether to launch military action in Syria, Trump is humiliated and under indescribable political pressure that may not be conducive to wise decision-making and seems sure to boil over on Twitter.

In a tsunami of bad news for the President just on Thursday, it was reported that the National Enquirer's parent company had paid off a doorman at one of his properties to keep quiet about a rumor that the President had sired an illegitimate child.

CNN has confirmed neither the story nor the rumor, but if true it would fit into a pattern of payoffs to people alleging transgressions in Trump's private life.

In yet another stunner, sources familiar with the matter said recordings that Trump attorney Michael Cohen often made of his telephone conversations likely have been scooped up in the FBI raid Monday on the attorney's apartment, office and hotel room.

CNN's Jim Acosta reported Thursday that the President had only just begun to cool off after the raid, which partly resulted from a referral to New York prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller.

But wall-to-wall news coverage of the leaks was likely to send Trump up the wall all over again, since there are few people he disdains more than Comey.

In an NBC interview last May, Trump blasted the former FBI chief as a "showboat" and a "grandstander." As recently as Monday, the President called Comey a liar and said he had been right to sack him. Trump has made no secret of his view of Comey as the epitome of a "deep state" effort to destroy him.

Like the furor over the book "Fire and Fury" by author Michael Wolf, published in January, this Trump headache will not fade soon.

Thursday's revelations were just the start of a week of pain for Trump, as Comey is about to embark on a media blitz, starting with an interview with Stephanopoulos on ABC's "20/20" on Sunday. CNN's Jake Tapper will sit down with the former FBI director next Thursday.

It's not clear even that the Republican National Committee's plan to unleash a counterattack on "Lyin' Comey," exclusively revealed by CNN's Jeff Zeleny on Thursday, will be sufficient to rebut the hard-charging claims in the book.

Still Comey's willingness to write about salacious details of the Steele dossier, including the notorious claim that Trump watched prostitutes urinate in a Moscow hotel room -- accounts that have not been verified -- could bolster GOP arguments that he is going tabloid just to sell books.

Book to have a long half life

The book is sure to have long-term political and legal consequences.

Its publication on Tuesday is certain to thicken the intrigue over Russian election meddling, and the President's apparent lack of interest in making the Kremlin pay a price.

In the book, Comey recalls being struck that neither Trump nor his advisers asked top intelligence officials at a meeting in Trump Tower "about what the future Russian threat might be. Nor did they ask how the United States might prepare itself to meet that threat." Instead, the book says, they focused on "how they could spin what we'd just told them."

Potentially, Comey's assault could play into Trump's thinking as he mulls whether to seek to dismiss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, perhaps as a precursor to shutting down Mueller himself.

It will certainly offer fodder for Democrats, who will argue in the midterm elections that Trump lacks the morals, intellect or temperament to be President. But there's little chance it will loosen Trump's unshakeable hold on his political support base, which tends to view such media storms as more proof that the establishment is biased against Trump.

Material in the book suggests, however, that Comey, who has already spoken to Mueller's investigators, will be a crucial witness as the special counsel considers whether the President obstructed justice.

In the book, Comey repeats his claim that Trump asked if he could go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, which he revealed in congressional testimony last year. But he stops short of outlining an obstruction case against Trump:

"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."

Excerpts from the book also reflect just how deeply Comey's tenure resulted in the FBI being dragged into the center of America's poisonous politics, a process likely to be exacerbated by days of controversy over his book.

Those who find Comey a flawed messenger with a healthy sense of ego and a holier-than-thou belief in his own propriety may also find ammunition for their views in the book.

In one section, he criticizes Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch as having a "tortured, half-out, half-in approach" to the Clinton email investigation, for which he was excoriated by Democrats.

Comey also writes that he was told by Barack Obama after the election that nothing that had happened had caused the then-President to question his integrity.

"Boy, were those words I needed to hear," he writes. "I felt a wave of emotion, almost to the verge of tears."

He wrote that he then told Obama, "I'm just trying to do the right thing."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 657037

Reported Deaths: 12450
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion901321624
Lake48105871
Allen35552632
Hamilton31839393
St. Joseph29538510
Elkhart25261412
Vanderburgh21115377
Tippecanoe19765197
Johnson16242352
Porter15838267
Hendricks15723296
Clark11843179
Madison11672314
Vigo11503228
Monroe10248158
Delaware9788178
LaPorte9720194
Howard9017194
Kosciusko8514107
Bartholomew7373147
Warrick7369146
Hancock7362128
Floyd7139164
Wayne6586188
Grant6395157
Morgan6040124
Boone603388
Dubois5868111
Dearborn540266
Henry539492
Marshall5390104
Cass537199
Noble506775
Jackson462063
Shelby458490
Lawrence4154111
Gibson399681
Harrison395160
Clinton392353
DeKalb382078
Montgomery381583
Knox354484
Miami354063
Whitley346235
Huntington338176
Steuben335955
Wabash328775
Putnam325959
Ripley325161
Adams320249
Jasper312943
White295351
Jefferson292770
Daviess284296
Fayette270255
Decatur269388
Greene259978
Posey259731
Wells255374
Scott248446
LaGrange240170
Clay238944
Randolph225076
Spencer215830
Jennings213544
Washington207727
Sullivan202038
Fountain200341
Starke185950
Owen181652
Jay177328
Fulton176437
Carroll175618
Perry172435
Orange170450
Rush163922
Franklin158335
Vermillion158040
Tipton145441
Parke137915
Pike127232
Blackford120027
Pulaski105643
Newton96431
Brown94639
Benton91113
Crawford90113
Martin80114
Switzerland7507
Warren74612
Union66810
Ohio52711
Unassigned0425

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 958153

Reported Deaths: 16968
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1109381191
Cuyahoga944201702
Hamilton72486944
Montgomery46927869
Summit39637941
Butler35004461
Lucas34724755
Stark29011826
Warren22137269
Lorain21738385
Mahoning19251533
Lake18178300
Clermont18172206
Delaware16261128
Licking14820194
Fairfield14378157
Trumbull14136454
Greene13470209
Medina13188218
Clark12121332
Wood11384193
Portage10829152
Allen10710231
Richland10165198
Miami9937179
Columbiana8049179
Muskingum8036123
Tuscarawas7974233
Pickaway795898
Marion7936134
Wayne7791216
Erie6783181
Ross6065135
Geauga5978129
Hancock5941110
Scioto5867105
Ashtabula5811140
Lawrence519073
Union505052
Darke5006122
Belmont484787
Sandusky472393
Jefferson4709107
Huron4701116
Seneca4620103
Athens456231
Mercer4559101
Auglaize453896
Washington451286
Shelby438867
Knox397884
Putnam3964101
Madison388747
Ashland374594
Fulton374364
Defiance3670101
Brown366742
Crawford354296
Preble350570
Logan349757
Clinton336162
Highland323652
Ottawa318467
Williams299578
Jackson287056
Guernsey283234
Champaign282545
Fayette265642
Perry265239
Morrow256624
Henry242665
Hardin241856
Holmes2416104
Coshocton230246
Van Wert227749
Gallia219446
Adams213732
Pike212025
Wyandot207652
Hocking192148
Carroll178828
Paulding158423
Meigs133536
Noble127842
Monroe114936
Harrison99132
Morgan98834
Vinton76215
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
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Feels Like: 34°
Angola
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41° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 33°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 39°
Fort Wayne
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 33°
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Lima
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