President Donald Trump accused former FBI director James Comey of trying to use an infamous dossier as leverage against him.
In a New York Times interview published Wednesday, Trump recalled Comey first telling him about the dossier, which contained allegations about indecent behavior supposedly performed by Trump while visiting Moscow.
Trump explained that two weeks before his inauguration, Comey pulled him aside after an intelligence briefing at Trump Tower and informed him about the dossier.
Trump believes now that Comey sharing the document with him was meant as an implicit threat.
“In my opinion, he shared it so that I would think he had it out there,” Trump said. When asked if he meant as leverage, Trump replied, “Yeah I think so. In retrospect.”
The FBI was not able to corroborate the vulgar claims made in the dossier, which was compiled by a British spy.
“When he brought it to me, I said this is really, made-up junk,” Trump said, denying the contents of the dossier. “I didn’t think about any of it. I just thought about man, this is such a phony deal.”
Comey explained the reasoning behind alerting Trump to the material during his June 8 testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified,” Comey’s prepared remarks said.
“Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing,” he explained.