On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr released Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two volume, 400-plus-page report on his investigation into the Trump administration’s possible collusion with the Russian government in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. I know, I know: But what about the pee tape?
Wait, you might be saying, remind me about the pee tape? What’s on it? Is it real? Are there porn parodies? To help refresh your memory, we’ve compiled every single thing we know.
First thing’s first: What exactly is supposed to be on this “pee tape”?
The video in question reportedly shows Trump in the presidential suite at Moscow’s posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel, watching two prostitutes pee on a bed the Obamas supposedly slept in. The incident allegedly took place in 2013, when Trump was visiting Moscow to attend the Miss Universe pageant.
So, is this what you would call a “golden shower”?
Not technically. A golden shower is when people pee on each other for sexual pleasure. Trump watching women pee on a bed to spite the president, but not peeing or getting peed on himself, isn’t a golden shower, but it could be considered a form of urolagnia, which is sexual excitement associated with the sight or thought of urine and/or urination.
Wait, who filmed it?
The Ritz-Carlton was allegedly under surveillance by the FSB, Russia’s main state security agency, and successor to the KGB, which had microphones and hidden cameras in many of the rooms, including, it seems, the soiled presidential suite.
That means, if it indeed exists, Russian president Vladimir Putin is likely in possession of the tape.
There is a chance the president of the United States could be vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government, or, as New York’s Jonathan Chait has suggested, is currently being blackmailed by them.
Yikes, okay. So what is the Steele dossier, and what does it have to do with the tape?
The Steele dossier is a collection of 17 intelligence reports that were compiled by former MI6 operative and Russian specialist Christopher Steele in 2016. Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, a private political research firm based in Washington, D.C., which had, in turn, been hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to look into Trump’s ties to Russia. One of the reports, dated June 20, 2016, details Trump’s “(perverted) conduct” at the Ritz-Carlton.
Steele concluded that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Trump for years, and that it had colluded with members of the Trump presidential campaign to help him win the 2016 election.
The reports had been floating around in media and political circles for some time (both President Obama and then-President-Elect Trump had reportedly been briefed on the contents of the dossier in early January 2017) when, on January 10, 2017, BuzzFeed News published the document online, and it wasn’t long before outlets everywhere seized on the detail of the possible pee tape.
How credible is Steele’s report of the pee tape?
That’s up for some debate. As Jane Mayer noted in The New Yorker, all four of Steele’s sources on the pee tape had only secondhand knowledge of it — none of them had seen it themselves or spoken to the prostitutes allegedly involved.
That being said, they seem like fairly knowledgeable players. According to Mayer, they are described as: “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.”
Can I read the Steele dossier?
Yes. You can read the documents BuzzFeed uploaded here.
What does Trump have to say about it?
Trump has vehemently denied the golden-shower allegations but, like the rest of us, is somewhat obsessed with them. He has publicly called the dossier “fake” and he repeatedly denied the tape’s existence to former FBI Director James Comey, who says the president told him: “I’m a germaphobe. There’s no way I would let people pee on each other around me. No way.”
He also reportedly told Comey that there was no way the pee tape could exist “because he had not stayed overnight in Moscow but had only used the hotel room to change his clothes.” As Mother Jones’ David Corn and Michael Isikoff reported in March, however, Trump did in fact stay overnight at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, approving the Miss Universe finalists on November 8, 2013 (as a Miss Universe staffer later noted, “If there were too many women of color, he would make changes,”) and attending the final of the pageant itself on November 9.
Didn’t James Comey say it was “possible” the pee tape is real?
Yes. Granted, it was in April 2018, while the former FBI director was promoting his book, A Higher Loyalty, so take it with a grain of salt.
Comey said Trump asked him to investigate whether Putin has the tape, writing, “He brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’ … adding that it bothered him if there was ‘even a 1 percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true. He just rolled on, unprompted, explaining why it couldn’t possibly be true, ending by saying he was thinking of asking me to investigate the allegation to prove it was a lie. I said it was up to him.”
He also told ABC’s George Stephanopolous during an interview that month that it’s “possible” the pee tape is real:
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. It’s possible, but I don’t know.
So, is the tape real?
While we can’t be entirely sure, and there are certainly many people who believe it is real, the pee tape probably doesn’t exist.
As Madison Malone Kircher noted over at Intelligencer, footnotes in the second volume of the Mueller report show that Trump’s former attorney-slash-fixer Michael Cohen got a text during the 2016 campaign from Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a Russian businessman, which said: “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know.”
The tapes, Rtskhiladze told investigators, “‘referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group, which had helped host the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia.” But although Rtskhiladze says he was told the tapes were fake, “he did not communicate that to Cohen.”
It’s unclear whether any of the tapes in question were the alleged pee tape, but even if they were, they appear to have been fakes.
Lastly, are there porn parodies of the tape?
No, that’s a journey you’ll have to take on your own.
I will tell you that on January 11, 2017, the day after the Steele dossier was released online, the website PornHub says it saw a 273 percent spike in searches for the term “golden shower,” (people urinating on, or being urinated on by their partner.) PornHub also notes that the demographic most likely to search for golden showers is men over 65, a group to which Trump has belonged for some time.