Former FBI Director James Comey said in his first TV interview since being fired last year that President Trump “possibly” committed obstruction of justice and it’s “possible” the Russians have something compromising on the president.
“It is stunning and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s just — it’s the truth. I cannot say that,” he said about ruling out the possibility of kompromat. “It’s possible.”
Comey also said that he would have still sent the Oct. 28, 2016, letter announcing that the FBI was looking at a new collection of Hillary Clinton’s emails knowing that Trump would have been elected. “Speaking is really bad; concealing is catastrophic. If you conceal the fact that you have restarted the Hillary Clinton email investigation, not in some silly way but in a very, very important way that may lead to a different conclusion, what will happen to the institutions of justice when that comes out?” he argued.
“If there were people who were secretly trying to protect Hillary Clinton, we didn’t know about it. The FBI drove this investigation and we did it in a competent and independent way,” he said of charges that the Obama Justice Department protected Clinton. “I would bet my life on that.”
The former director said “the investigators knew that, unless they found something that was a smoking gun, where someone told Secretary Clinton ‘you know, you shouldn’t be doing this,’ or where she acknowledged it or where somehow there’s an indication of her obstructing justice, the case was unlikely to be prosecuted.”
“It’s illustrative of our polarization here that you’ve got the Trump camp, which I guess thinks I was trying to save Hillary Clinton. They don’t quite explain what I was doing in October,” he said. “And then Clinton camp thinks I was trying to shiv Hillary Clinton. Both can’t be true, but in our polarized world, people live in separate bubbles. I would hope both camps will read this and, I hope, see a deeply flawed human surrounded by other flawed humans trying to make decisions with an eye, not on politics, but on those higher values.”
Comey told ABC’s George Stephanopolous that the title of his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” came in part from the “bizarre conversation” he had with Trump at a private White House dinner in which Comey said the president asked for his loyalty, allegedly telling Comey “a lot of people would want to be FBI director.”
Comey said he was “mystified” when he “discovered” that Trump refused to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin in private as well as in public. The FBI investigation “was triggered entirely separately from the Steele dossier,” he said, as the document was received after the probe began with Trump campaign aide George Papadopolous’ Russian contacts.
The Steele dossier, he said, “at its core was consistent with the other information we’d gathered during the intelligence investigation.” Comey said he was informed that Republicans first funded the gathering of the dossier during primary season and then Democrats picked up the project.
Comey said that when he privately brought up the salacious details in the dossier with the president-elect, Trump got “very defensive and started to launch into — for reasons that I don’t understand, started going into the list of people who had accused him of touching them improperly, sexual assault and how he hadn’t done this, he hadn’t done that, he hadn’t done that.”
The former FBI chief said it “might have been a mistake” to tell Trump at that Trump Tower meeting that he was not personally under investigation at the time.
“The general counsel of the FBI had argued, ‘Look, it’s literally true that we don’t have a case open on President-elect Trump. We’re looking at other people.’ But his argument was, ‘There’s a problem with you saying that for two reasons. First, inevitably as we move along in the investigation as– as to whether anyone was working with the Russians, the campaign’s going to have to be a focus and the candidate’s always the head of the campaign, so inevitably we’re going to have to look at him. And second, you’re going to create a duty to correct.'”
On the White House meeting at which Comey said Trump asked him to let the investigation go on former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, Comey said Flynn was in serious jeopardy at the time but he didn’t know if Trump was aware of that. “That is obviously an area that a special prosecutor would want to investigate,” he added.
Comey said that he’s a witness, if called by special counsel Robert Mueller, in “an obstruction investigation,” but “where that’s going to go, I don’t know.”
“I mean, it’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. It would depend — and I’m just a witness in this case, not the investigator or prosecutor — it would depend upon other things that reflected on his intent.”
Any attempt by Trump to fire Mueller “would, I hope, set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law,” Comey said. “And it would be something that our entire country– again, Democrats and Republicans, that is higher than all the normal fights about policy. That is about the values of this country and the rule of law. And it would be to the everlasting shame of partisans if they were unable to see that higher level and to protect it.”
Trump spent the day tweeting against Comey, calling the former director a “slimeball” and charging that in the Clinton probe “he was making decisions based on the fact that he thought she was going to win, and he wanted a job.” Comey was in the fourth year of a 10-year term when he was fired by Trump.
“The big questions in Comey’s badly reviewed book aren’t answered like, how come he gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail), why did the DNC refuse to give Server to the FBI (why didn’t they TAKE it), why the phony memos, McCabe’s $700,000 & more?” Trump tweeted.
“I never asked Comey for Personal Loyalty. I hardly even knew this guy. Just another of his many lies. His ‘memos’ are self serving and FAKE!” Trump also tweeted. “Slippery James Comey, a man who always ends up badly and out of whack (he is not smart!), will go down as the WORST FBI Director in history, by far!”
Comey said he doesn’t follow Trump on Twitter, but he expected the president’s tweetstorm and shrugged it off as “OK.”
“I don’t buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above-average intelligence who’s tracking conversations and knows what’s going on. I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president,” Comey said. “A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they’re pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person’s not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds. And that’s not a policy statement. Again, I don’t care what your views are on guns or immigration or taxes.”
“There’s something more important than that that should unite all of us, and that is our president must embody respect and adhere to the values that are at the core of this country. The most important being truth. This president is not able to do that. He is morally unfit to be president.”