Did a Late Night Host Get Dirt on Trump?
Stephen Colbert appears to have evidence on the most salacious Trump allegation. Really. We're not kidding.
By Brad Hamilton
Do they have something on him — and is it the "pee-pee tape"?
The question of whether Donald Trump hired Russian hookers to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed where President Obama and Michelle once slept at first seemed a disturbing and implausible claim, and one strenuously dismissed by Trump himself, according to James Comey's book and newly released documents.
Yet the allegation, which came to light in the dossier prepared by ex- British spy Christopher Steele, just won't go away, especially after an intriguing revelation from TV host Stephen Colbert Wednesday night.
That's when Colbert had Comey on his "Late Night" show, during which the comedian spoke with the former FBI director about his own probe of the tape, when the show filmed a week's worth of shows last summer. He did not appear to be joking.
The exchange began with Colbert asking about Trump's reaction when Comey informed the then-president-elect of the agency's tip he'd purportedly cavorted with Russian working girls in the Ritz-Carlton's presidential suite in 2013.
"He denied it in pretty strong terms, and asked me, I assumed rhetorically, if he looked like the kind of guy who needed the services of hookers," Comey said.
At which point Colbert nodded his head vigorously to laughs.
"By the way," the host offered, "I went to that room at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow." Colbert asked Comey if anyone from the FBI had done so, and when the ex-director said no, at least not while he was in charge, Colbert replied, "Ask me anything about the room."
"Is it big enough for the germaphobe to be a safe distance from the activity?" Comey asked, referring to whether or not Trump could have been hit with urine as the women peed on the bed.
"The bedroom is very long," said Colbert. "You could definitely be out of what we call at SeaWorld the splash zone."
Then came Colbert's big reveal.
"I met people who are very, very rich," he said, apparently referencing his trip to Moscow. "And some people there knew, had knowledge of the party that this took place at."
"Would you like to know anything about that?" he asked Comey.
"Not right now," he said.
Colbert put his hand to his ear, as if he were on the phone. "Call me," he mouthed.
Has Comey called? Did someone from the FBI follow up? Did Colbert, who rented the same Ritz-Carlton room, 1101, actually speak with sources there who potentially could verify the Steele dossier on this matter?
One more reason for fascination over the tape is a new set of details that came out yesterday: 15 pages of notes on meetings between Comey and Trump released by the Department of Justice.
They include memos related to briefings Comey gave on "the golden showers thing," in which he told Trump that Russians allegedly had videotape of the president with prostitutes who urinated on each other.
"There were no prostitutes," Trump replied, according to Comey's memos. "There were never prostitutes." The president called the allegation "a complete fabrication and fake news," adding he claimed to not have stayed at the Ritz-Carlton on the night in question.
"The President said, 'The whole hooker thing is nonsense,' but that Putin had told him, 'We have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world,'" according to Comey's memos.
They note that Trump vehemently denied having assaulted or harassed any women or that he mocked a handicapped reporter.
There's been mounting speculation about the tape since March 21, when ex-CIA director John Brennan expressed concerns on the "Morning Joe" show over Trump's "fawning" attitude toward Vladimir Putin, hinting that the Russians might have compromising material on the president that they could use against him.
"Do you believe he's somehow in debt to the president of Russia?" he was asked.
"I think he's afraid of the president of Russia," Brennan replied. "I think one can speculate as to why, that the Russians might have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult."
While there's no proof of the tape, one way or the other, we know details about the four sources who supplied information about it to Steele, thanks to Jane Mayer's outstanding piece of investigative reporting published in the New Yorker on March 12:
“A former top-level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” a “member of the staff at the hotel,” a “female staffer at the hotel when Trump had stayed there,” and “a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow.”
She got that from reports filed by Steele, who did not name these sources in the raw intel he gathered and passed along to the client he was working for, Fusion GPS, because he was unable to confirm or disprove their accounts.
As Mayer notes, none of Steele's four sources witnessed this event first-hand, and no one has been able to track down any prostitutes allegedly involved in it or find any tape.
The former MI6 sleuth himself reportedly puts the chances of the hooker-video allegation being true at 50-50, an assessment backed by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, authors of "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump."
They point to Trump's failed efforts to build a tower in Moscow as the more likely reason for the president's soft stance toward Putin.
Still, even just a halfway chance that there's compromising Russian videotape involving Trump and prostitutes means speculation about it isn't likely to end anytime soon.