Comey Reveals New Details About His Planned Russia 'Warning to the American People'

Updated | In his new book, former FBI Director James Comey provides new details about a plan he had to reveal Russia's election tampering before the Obama administration ended up doing so.

As Newsweek first reported last year, Comey proposed writing a newspaper op-ed about Russia's efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election to Obama administration officials in the summer of 2016.

Related: Comey tried to reveal Russian tampering before election

In A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, published Tuesday, Comey writes that the draft he shared with the administration "laid out what the Russians were doing with the dumping of stolen emails, highlighted hacking aimed at state voter databases and placed those activities in the context of historical Russian election disruption efforts."

He adds, "I intended that as a warning to the American people."

The proposal happened prior to the Obama administration's acknowledging the Russian interference for the first time in an October 2016 statement. In the book, Comey recalls how as the 2016 election approached, the FBI was receiving calls from reporters asking about Russian interference, accounts of which were starting to appear in the press.

Copies of a new book by former FBI Director James Comey sit on a shelf at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York City on April 17. In the book, Comey provides details about a newspaper op-ed he proposed publishing about Russian meddling. Drew Angerer/Getty

During a meeting with Obama, Comey and other officials discussed a possible "inoculation" for the public about the Russia issue. "I said I was tired of being the guy at the podium with controversial news," he writes, referring to his July 5, 2016 announcement about completing the Hillary Clinton emails investigation, "but I was willing to be the voice on this, absent any alternatives."

"If we felt that there were attempts to influence the election, we felt that it would be important for the American public to know that," Michael Steinbach, a former FBI official under Comey who was involved in the op-ed discussions, told Newsweek last year. "That was a conversation that we had, and one course of action as a way for the director to get that message out was to do an op-ed."

"He had a draft of it or an outline," a source with knowledge of the proposal, who requested anonymity in order to discuss the internal matter, previously told Newsweek. "He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, 'I want to go forward. What do people think of this?'"

A second source with knowledge of proposed op-ed, who requested anonymity for the same reason, said Comey was not planning to mention in the article the FBI investigation into Donald Trump's campaign, which at that point had only just started.

But, as Newsweek previously reported, the administration did not take him up on the offer. "The Obama team's deliberations were, as usual, extensive, thoughtful and very slow," Comey writes. He adds that maybe the administration did not immediately act because it did not think Trump would win. "He backed the wrong horse," Comey recalls Obama saying in a meeting that September about Putin and Trump.

Speaking with Newsweek last year, Ned Price, a former special assistant to Obama and National Security Council spokesperson, insisted that the administration was not too slow to acknowledge Russian meddling. "As we consistently said, the Obama administration clearly and firmly publicly attributed the election-related hacks to the highest levels of the Russian government as soon as we were able to do so last year, weeks before the election," he said.

The order of the paragraphs in this article has been updated.