It's Monday, April 16, 2018. Here are some of the stories we're talking about on ABC News' new daily podcast, "Start Here." On today's episode, we dive deep into the ABC News exclusive interview with former FBI Director James Comey.
1. Loyalty over dinner
It was at a White House dinner for two when President Donald Trump asked James Comey for loyalty, the former FBI director claims in his new book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”
Comey tells ABC’s George Stephanopoulos it was clear this was the whole premise of the dinner: “He said again, ‘I need loyalty.’ And I said, ‘You will always get honesty from me.’”
He recounts several other discussions with the president, including the first time he met with then-president-elect Trump. Comey describes how Trump reacted at Trump Tower when he briefed him on the salacious, unverified allegations in the infamous Christopher Steele dossier.
2. Pressure at the DOJ
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are frequent targets of Trump’s tweetstorms, but Comey has his own criticism for the pair. He tells Stephanopoulos that Sessions was “overmatched for the job” as attorney general and Rosenstein “acted dishonorably by putting out this pretext about why I was fired.”
As Trump continues his attacks on the FBI and Justice Department, ABC’s chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas tells us how career officials are reacting within the departments.
3. Clinton email investigation
Hillary Clinton has blamed Comey’s letter to Congress announcing the reopening of a probe of her emails just days before the election as the reason for her historic loss. Comey, who says he did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, admits that decision still weighs on him in part because he believed Clinton was going to be the next president. Then-candidate Trump praised Comey in the final days on the campaign trail and said he “brought back his reputation.” ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl tells us how the president and the White House have since responded to Comey’s extraordinary admission.
4. "A forest fire"
Comey said in addition to finding similarities between Trump and a mob boss, there’s another destructive entity that Trump reminds him of: a forest fire.
“His presidency is doing, and will do, tremendous damage to our norms and our values, especially the truth. And so that's bad. And terrible things happen in forest fires,” Comey said. “But I'm an optimistic person. And so I choose to see the opportunity in a forest fire 'cause what forest fires do is allow things to grow that never could've grown.
“I see already things growing and flourishing that didn't before this fire. I see the kids marching in the streets, including my own kids, about guns. I see all kinds of civil society getting engaged. I see parents talking to their kids about truth-telling and prejudice and bias and respect. That was not happening three or four years ago. And so there's a lot of good growing. And I also see the courts and Congress getting involved in ways they hadn't before. So I choose to see opportunity,” he said.
“I think this forest fire will leave us better and stronger, as did the last forest fire. Watergate was a forest fire,” Comey added, citing the scandal that ultimately brought down President Richard Nixon. “It rebalanced power among the branches of government. I think we're gonna see that. And I think we're gonna be better for it.”
"Start Here" is a daily ABC News podcast hosted by Brad Mielke featuring original reporting on stories that are driving the national conversation. Listen for free at Apple Podcasts -- also available on TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio and the ABC News app.