The memos, on the whole, tell the same story as Comey told in his book. They tell the same story as he told in his congressional testimony last year. They corroborate these statements, often down to the level of the specific words spoken and the specific details reported. Notably, Comey did not have access to the memos while he was writing the book.
The truth is sticky.
There are, to be sure, minor inconsistencies between Comey’s four statements on what happened between him and the president—his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee, his oral testimony, his book, and his contemporaneous memos. The first of the memos, for example, says that during the Trump Tower meeting at which Comey briefed the president elect on the Steele dossier, Priebus asked the assembled group if there was anything else that needed to be talked about. In the memo, Comey reports that Comey himself said there was something Clapper wanted him to speak with Trump about alone or in a small group. In the book, however, it is Clapper—not Comey—who says there is something else that Comey needs to discuss with him in a small group.
Similarly, both Comey’s memos and his book describe his leaving the Oval Office after his February 14, 2017, meeting in which Trump suggested he drop the investigation into Flynn,and running into a “large group” of people, including Priebus and then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. In his book, Comey writes that he left the White House without speaking to anyone. In the memo, he details a short conversation with John Kelly, who he ran into on the way out of the building.
But these kinds of trivial details are the levels to which you have to go to find inconsistencies in Comey’s account over time—which is probably why nobody is even bothering. Even those Republican members of the House of Representatives who have attempted to discredit the Russia investigation by attacking the FBI are not really trying to argue that Comey’s account isn’t true. House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy argued merely in a statement Thursday that the memos only “show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened.”
The broader point about the memos is the degree to which they corroborate even minor details of the other accounts Comey has given. The consistency is the most striking when the details are shared between the book and the original memos only and are omitted from Comey’s testimony: Comey would have had access to the testimony while writing the book, so it makes sense that those accounts share details and corroborate one another. Even were he Lyin’ Comey, after all, he’d make sure to get his public story straight between two high-profile written statements. But by his own account, he had no access to the memos—which had by that point been handed over to the FBI—during the drafting of his book. So all the details shared between the memos and the book were carried over from memory. This makes it all the more notable when the memos and book share information down to the word—like when Comey describes Trump as commenting that the FBI director had had “a hell of a year” or declaring his respect for Putin as “the leader of a major country.”