Apr 13, 2018

Exclusive James Comey book excerpt: Inside the "loyalty dinner"

Former FBI Director Jim Comey. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fired FBI director James Comey comes across in "A Higher Loyalty," out Tuesday, as aghast that, in his view, so many people who should know better allowed President Trump to attack basic norms of behavior and ethics.

The intrigue: In one of the juicier scenes, Comey takes readers inside his "loyalty dinner" with Trump, in the White House residence on Jan. 27, 2017, a week after the inauguration:

  • "He said lots of people wanted to be director of the FBI, but that he thought very highly of me. He said he had heard great things about me and knew the people of the FBI thought very highly of me as well."
  • "He said despite that, he would understand if I wanted to 'walk away' given all I had been through, although then he noted that that would be bad for me personally because it would look like I had done something wrong."
  • "He finished by saying that he knew he could 'make a change at FBI' if he wanted to, but that he wanted to know what I thought."
  • "Now it was pretty clear to me what was happening. The setup of the dinner, both the physical layout of a private meal and Trump’s pretense that he had not already asked me to stay on multiple occasions, convinced me this was an effort to establish a patronage relationship."
  • "Somebody probably had told him, or maybe it just occurred to him at random, that he’d 'given' me the job for 'free' and that he needed to get something in return."
  • "This only added to the strangeness of the experience. The president of the United States had invited me to dinner and decided my job security was on the menu."

Comey writes that Trump's loyalty demand at the dinner was like "Sammy the Bull’s Cosa Nostra induction ceremony." (ABC)

The big picture: We're told Comey "feels a sense of mission" ahead of a coast-to-coast tour, launching Sunday at 10 p.m. with an interview with ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

  • As leaks from the book began pouring out yesterday, Comey was said to be "bemused" by Twitter attacks from Trump — and preemptive pushback from the RNC, which set up a "Lyin' Comey" site.

Go deeper ... The N.Y. Times book review, "James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive," is written by one of the tougher critics out there — Michiko Kakutani, former chief book critic for The Times, and author of "The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump,” out July 17.

  • How it's playing: N.Y. Times A1, "Visceral Details, and Grim View Of President, in Comey Memoir" ... WashPost A1, "Comey’s memoir: Trump fixates on proving lewd dossier allegations false."

Go deeper: Comey felt Trump was sitting "on a throne"

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In photos: How the coronavirus outbreak is impacting on daily lives

A woman receives a rose delivered to her via a drone in Lebanon's coastal city of Jounieh. Photo: Joseph EidAFP via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on the lives of people around the world.

The big picture: The first known case outside China was in Thailand on Jan. 13. Since then, global infection numbers have surged, and governments around the world have responded with measures designed to curb the spread of the virus — ranging from lockdowns to physical distancing enforcement. There were more than 723,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections by early Monday, per Johns Hopkins data). However, life hasn’t stopped because of the pandemic, but it has changed. Here's how.

See photosArrow28 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: Global death toll surpasses 34,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 34,000 people and infected over 723,000 others globally, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 10,700 deaths early Monday.

The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30,

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m. ET: 722,435 — Total deaths: 33,997 — Total recoveries: 151,991.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 1 a.m.. ET: 142,502 — Total deaths: 2,506 — Total recoveries: 4,856.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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