April 16, 2018, Donald Trump Denies Paying Prostitutes To Pee On A Russian Bed
The “pee tape” claim, explained
The absurd-sounding, still-unverified tale of Trump and Russian prostitutes is back again. Here’s where it came from.
The release of former FBI Director James Comey’s new book has plunged the United States of America into yet another round of speculation about whether the Russian government taped Donald Trump watching prostitutes urinate on a hotel bed in Moscow in 2013.
The utterly bizarre allegation — which became public by way of Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier — has never been confirmed. Indeed, beyond the hearsay of a few anonymous people, we have no evidence that it happened, and Trump himself has vociferously disputed it.
But while promoting his book this week, Comey told ABC News that he thought there was at least a possibility that it really took place. “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current President of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,” he said. “It’s possible, but I don’t know.” His book also claims Trump was fixated on rebutting the accusation in private, and that he brought it up to Comey on four separate occasions.
Now, the question of whether Donald Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed five years ago does not, in and of itself, seem important to American public policy in any way.
Yet the “pee tape” claim instantly overshadowed all the other Trump-Russia allegations in the Steele dossier, for a few reasons. First, it purports to explain Trump’s unusually pro-Russian and pro-Putin views with the idea that the Russian government has “kompromat” on him — blackmail material that he knows about and is seeking to prevent them from releasing. Second, it’s salacious, unusual, and sexual (and, to many, funny). And third, there’s the promise that documentary evidence exists … somewhere.
However, there are also many reasons to think the pee tape story could be complete bullshit.
For one, we have actually learned more about Steele’s sourcing for the tale, and it doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. Then, of course, there was the revelation that Steele’s research was ultimately funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, which raises some obvious questions about the project’s objectivity.
Perhaps most revealingly, though, even Steele and his allies have confessed some doubts about the “pee tape” tale to reporters they trust — a new book claims that Steele’s business partner says his dossier’s claims were “not meant to be definitive,” and that Steele himself has said there’s only a “fifty-fifty” chance this particular claim is correct. Yet still, we’re talking about it, once again.