Did Trump Lie to Comey About Sleeping in Infamous Moscow “Pee Tape” Room?
In his new book, former FBI director James Comey discusses an uncomfortable January 11, 2017 phone call he had with then President-elect Donald Trump, who was fixated on the so-called “pee tape” portion of the infamous Steele dossier. This morning, The Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand pointed out a discrepancy between Comey’s recollection of his conversation with Trump and reported testimony in front of the House Intelligence Committee regarding that infamous night in Moscow.
According to the contemporaneous notes Comey says he wrote after each meeting and conversation he had with Trump, the former FBI director wrote that Trump said that he couldn’t have been recorded in a video with two sex workers urinating on a hotel bed where the Obamas once slept because he hadn’t even slept in the room. From a Washington Post story on Comey’s forthcoming memoir:
A week after the Trump Tower meeting, on Jan. 11, Comey writes that Trump called him and said he was concerned about the dossier being made public and was fixated on the prostitutes allegation. The president-elect argued that it could not be true because he had not stayed overnight in Moscow but had only used the hotel room to change his clothes. And after Trump explained that he would never allow people to urinate near him, Comey recalls laughing.
“I decided not to tell him that the activity alleged did not seem to require either an overnight stay or even being in proximity to the participants,” Comey writes. “In fact, though I didn’t know for sure, I imagined the presidential suite of the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow was large enough for a germaphobe to be at a safe distance from the activity.”
The notion that Trump didn’t spend the night appears to be refuted by a November, 2017 NBC News report on Schiller’s House Intel Committee testimony, in which the president’s former bodyguard confirmed that “a Russian participant” of the Miss Universe pageant offered to “send five women” to Trump’s suite. According to sources familiar with Schiller’s testimony who spoke with NBC, the former Trump bodyguard turned down the offer and the two men laughed about it as he accompanied Trump back to his room and left him there for the night. From NBC:
That night, two sources said, Schiller said he discussed the conversation with Trump as Trump was walking back to his hotel room, and Schiller said the two men laughed about it as Trump went to bed alone. Schiller testified that he stood outside Trump’s hotel room for a time and then went to bed.
One source noted that Schiller testified he eventually left Trump’s hotel room door and could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night.
Schiller’s attorney Stuart Sears claimed that the testimony leaked to the press was “blatantly false and misleading” in a statement. When Schiller testified in front of the House Intel Committee, he was no longer employed by the president, having resigned a couple months prior.
It’s theoretically possible that Trump somehow left the Moscow hotel without Schiller knowing, or that Schiller misremembered the events of the night. But if Trump did indeed sleep over at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, what, exactly, would be motivating him to say that he didn’t?