On Sunday night, ABC aired an interview between George Stephanopoulos and fired FBI Director James Comey. The topic of the interview, of course, was Comey’s new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” which makes many accusations against President Trump, up to and including Comey calling him a “mob boss” bent on demanding loyalty form his subordinates on every matter. The book has already taken some criticism for an overly “bitchy” tone against the President, but clearly Comey has his side of the story to tell regarding the Hillary email scandal up to being fired by the President last year.

The full transcript of the interview is available here if you’d prefer to read rather than watch. The New York Times offers five highlights from the interview, which spanned the course of an hour:

1) Mr. Comey thinks a meeting he had with Mr. Trump could be evidence of obstruction of justice.

Mr. Comey says that Mr. Trump asked him to drop the F.B.I.’s investigation of Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, after a White House meeting with Mr. Trump and other senior officials. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Comey says, the president asked everyone in the room to clear out, save for Mr. Comey.

2) He thought his firing was a “crazy” move by Mr. Trump.

“That makes no sense at all,” Mr. Comey recalled in the Sunday interview of his reaction to the news of his firing last May.

“I thought, ‘It’s crazy to fire me.’ I’m leading the investigation of Russian influence.”

When he saw news the same week that Mr. Trump had met with Russian officials in the Oval Office and called Mr. Comey a “nut job,” Mr. Comey said he saw right through it.

3) He said firing Robert Mueller would be “the most serious attack yet on the rule of law.”

Mr. Stephanopoulos asked Mr. Comey what he would think if Mr. Trump were to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

“It would I hope set off alarm bells that this is his most serious attack yet on the rule of law,” Mr. Comey said. “That is higher than all the normal fights about policy.”

4) He stands by his handling of the F.B.I.’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Mr. Comey used several portions of the interview to defend his decisions about revealing the closing and reopening of the F.B.I.’s investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Having announced an end to the inquiry in July 2016, Mr. Comey revealed on Oct. 28, just days before the election, that the F.B.I. was again investigating the case.

Those days leading up to the election “sucked,” Mr. Comey said. “I walked around vaguely sick to my stomach, feeling beaten down.”

Asked to address the fierce criticism he received for the move, Mr. Comey said Americans would benefit from stepping into his shoes and considering the options he had.

5) He said Mr. Trump was “morally unfit” to be president.

Asked if he believes Mr. Trump is unfit for office, Mr. Comey was quick to say yes, but not for reasons of his mental state.

Instead, Mr. Comey called Mr. Trump “morally unfit.”

“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,” Mr. Comey said.

From a critical standpoint, the most obvious question is why Comey didn’t resign once he started to believe that Trump was unfit to be Commander in Chief? Why stay on at all given what he foresaw as conflict between his style of doing business and that of the President? Beyond that question, what does Comey propose doing in light of his opinion on the President? Does he advocate invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the President from office? In other words, if the problem is so deep, how does Comey propose to remedy it?

When asked about impeachment, Comey said he thinks that would let the American people “off the hook” for their role in electing Trump. In other words, he is basically saying that impeachment would be like bailing out America and then voters wouldn’t learn their lesson. This is truly some astonishing stuff coming from a former FBI Director.

The reactions to Comey’s interview vary depending on partisan leanings. CNN Analyst Jeffrey Toobin called the interview “damning” to the President:

Toobin was asked during a segment on the network whether he thinks Comey’s claims that Trump asked him to let the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn go was evidence of possible obstruction of justice.

“I don’t think it’s evidence of obstruction of justice. I think it is obstruction of justice,” Toobin said.

“There’s just no other way to describe what the president was doing, if Comey’s account of the conversation is correct. He is trying to stop an investigation of a subordinate in the Russia investigation.”

Toobin said he believes it was a “crime committed in the Oval Office.”

“I just think it’s a completely devastating account of the president’s behavior,” Toobin said.

Meanwhile, within the FBI, reactions tended to be more negative against Comey with disbelief that he would essentially cast aside any semblance of objectivity and declare unfettered war against a sitting President:

Seven current or former FBI agents and officials spoke throughout and immediately after the broadcast. There was a lot of anger, frustration, and even more emojis—featuring the thumbs-down, frowny face, middle finger, and a whole lot of green vomit faces.

One former FBI official sent a bourbon emoji as it began; another sent the beers cheersing emoji. The responses became increasingly angry and despondent as the hour-long interview played out.

“Hoover is spinning in his grave,” said one former FBI official. “Making money from total failure.”

When a promo aired between segments announcing Comey’s upcoming interview with The View, the official grew angrier.

“Good lord, what a self-serving self-centered jackass,” the official said. “True to form he thinks he’s the smartest guy around.”

It is ironic, actually, that Trump goes around declaring the “deep state” is waging a war against him, and then someone so deeply entrenched in DC politics, such as Comey, devotes an entire book and broadcast TV interview basically demonstrating exactly what Trump says is happening. It is a way for the President to discredit Comey, and others, but it also serves in some capacity to lend credence to the concept of “the swamp” and/or the “deep state,” whatever your preferred term, being so entrenched within the government that elected officials cower in fear over what could happen to them when the anonymous leaks begin.

The President went on a twitter tirade this morning hitting back at Comey:

The dust hasn’t settled on this one fully, and the news of the week will still be dominated largely by Comey’s allegations, notwithstanding the Syria bombings.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Question #1: Why didn’t Comey resign?
    Answer: Clearly, he felt that there were officials around Trump who might rein him in. It would be more responsible to fight the battle from inside, rather than to “bitch” from the outside.

    Question #2: Should we invoke the 25th Amendment?
    Answer: He said specifically that Trump shouldn’t be impeached, and that the people should decide. The 25th Amendment would also be out of the hands of the people. Although Comey would like to see Trump gone, I think it’s clear that removing Trump would be seen as a coup by about a third of the public.

    Regarding obstruction of justice, Trump said in January, “I hope you can let this go.” That’s not saying, “I hope you don’t find anything,” it’s saying, “I hope you stop looking.” It may not rise’ to obstruction, but it’s certainly “discouraging” the Federal Bureau of Investigation from investigating.

    Regarding Syria, I think it’s appropriate to suggest “Wag the Dog.” That is, people say it is likely that Syria used chemical weapons, but we have an official investigative unit going in THIS week to look for evidence. A bombing LAST week makes it appear that it was more to draw attention away from Comey and the Cohen raid. Maybe not, but why else rush the action before the investigation?

    And, finally, the problem with Comey’s book and interview is the intensity. He could have just questioned if Trump is unfit, instead of stating it. But, of course, his serious, thoughtful tone must be compared to Trump’s rash of ranting tweets saying Comey’s a “slimeball,” etc.

    • Once in a blue moon I look at your articles and comments and once again pure liberal / Democrat.
      The inadequate pres 44 should have resolved Syria before 45 ever took office as well as should have fired Comey. No action on red line by 44, therefore when Assad used chem WMA 45 was forced to do something. and when Assad did it again 45 forced to respond again.
      Chicken-shit RINO Sessions should have fired Comey, Dinklestein, and Mueller plus should have never recused. 45 should fire Sessions hire a real AG. Should have never been a FISA warrant issued.
      Trump tweets because the MSM and Super Libs CNN & MSNBC are so biased that Someone has to tell the 30 million or so legal voters what really happening in the White House. Don’t really care about the dead and illegal voters.
      Only tail wagging the dog are the liberals and of course you.

      • Exactly. If Trump didn’t tweet the liberal press would have their way and too many people would believe them.

      • Hey, Sam!

        I disagree. Trump was right when he told Obama to stay out of Syria. One of our greatest mistakes in the Middle East was when we deposed a secular leader in Iraq, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars. Now we’re trying to depose a secular leader in Syria.

        • But Obama didn’t stay out of Syria, he threatened him with a red line – twice – didn’t do jack. Made the U.S. look non threating and cowardly to the rest of the world. Trump made it plain no chemical WMD or consequences. Actually doesn’t want a thing to do to with Syria, wants out of there as soon as ISIS is out of there. Your blue lenses are a major fault of being a non-journalist just another MSM hack.

          • NeoCon alert! NeoCon alert!

            By the way, when was the second time. I’ve been looking for that and haven’t had much luck. The first time was during a news briefing about an entirely different issue. When was the second time?

            • Picky, Picky!! So Obama only said it once. But Assad crossed it numerous times. In ’12 – “red line”, in ’13 – “were gonna take military action”, in ’15 – ” We and the UN are gonna help the Rebels” (and further fk things up – not knowing who were actual rebels, ISIS, or fake White Hats.
              https://www.factcheck.org/2013/09/obamas-blurry-red-line/
              https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/17/obama-red-line-erased-as-assad-chemical-weapons-us/
              https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/04/the-obama-doctrine/471525/
              He basically made us a feckless superpower – NeoCon my arse, he set us up for ANYBODY to fk-over-us and we would do nothing.
              Now everyone kinda of blusters now and then but no one really wants to threaten us and that just how we want it. Peace, now and forever.

            • I wasn’t being picky. I was curious why people have made a big deal about that “red line,” since I had only heard the one reference at the press conference on August 20, 2012. All he said then was that MASSIVE use of chemical weapons would “change his calculus.” That’s hardly a declaration of war. And have we seen “massive” use of chemical weapons? The furor just didn’t make sense to me, except that some people want our troops and bombs in every country in the world.

              Thanks for providing the other two references. On Sept 4, 2012, Obama said that the “red line” was the international treaty, itself. But, of course, the treaty doesn’t say who should react to an infringement, or how. Also, it is an agreement among signatories, and Syria did not sign, so how could it be apply to them??

              On April 25, The White House, not Obama personally, said that the red line was to INVESTIGATE the use of the weapons. The expression “when we firmly establish” the use. It was about information, not attacking. I have not seen anything “firmly established.”

              Obama did go to Congress, to ask whether we should take military action. Isn’t that what you have always wanted? Didn’t you and I discuss giving war powers back to Congress?

              This is not about Obama. It’s about ANY president willy-nilly attacking another sovereign country without Congressional approval.

              It is also not about politics. It’s about presidents attacking other countries. Personally, I only approve of one use of military power since World War II. I think we had the right to attack Afghanistan after 9/11, but only because we had given them the ultimatum to turn over al Qaeda members. It was the breach of the ultimatum that justified that attack. Although, one might wonder why we didn’t give Saudi Arabia any ultimatums, since bin Laden AND the 9/11 team were from Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan.

              Korea was NOT an American war. It was a “police action” by the United Nations, and we just participated in the UN action. Vietnam and Iraq were fiascos. I thought you and I agreed on this issue. Certainly, it was what Trump was saying on the campaign trail–to do nation-building HERE, instead.

              Obama should have left Syria alone. Now we have thousands of boots on the ground there. I think Trump was right that we should have supported Putin’s work to get I.S. out of Syria. Period.

    • The 25th amendment? Certainly you know why we have it, right? Comey obviously doesn’t why.

      It shouldn’t even be a thought. What kind of journalist would as such a question?

      • You’re losing me here. Nate had asked if Comey thinks Trump is so bad that we should invoke the 25th. My answer was that Comey knows that doing so would look like a coup to a third of the public. That’s why Comey is saying the public will have to pass judgment 2020.

        • Goethe, I wasn’t being critical. I was saying that you knew what the 25th amendment was really all about. But it is obvious Comey, and others, don’t understand its real meaning.

          No matter what happens at least, as Obama said, Trump was President. Except Obama referred to himself when he made the statement.

          Can you see all the living presidents Bush, Obama, Clinton, and Trump getting together some day? No, neither can I.

          • I didn’t think you were being critical, but you seem to be suggesting that Comey would like to see the amendment applied, but Comey is saying exactly the opposite. If he doesn’t want Trump impeached, he wouldn’t want him to be removed via the 25th, either. Comey says it’s up to the people, and we should wait 2-1/2 years to decide.

            • I have no idea what Comey is really thinking. He says one thing and writes, or thinks, something else.

              Seems to me Comey might be saying “Your stuck with Trump.” Well I’m happy as are millions of others.

              Trump brought NK to the peace table. Or China did as China, in my opinion, said NK you’ve become a distraction to my bottom line.

              Syria and the ISSIs bees have quieted down. Maybe more to come.

              As Clinton said, “It’s the economy stupid.”

          • But now that you bring it up, I’ve always wondered why the 25th begins by saying the veep will act as president. That is already stated in Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution.

            That same section also says that Congress “may by law provide the case for his removal.”

            The 25th really just determines process. It didn’t establish the idea of removing a president or vice president.

            • The outrage from the Trump supporters wouldn’t stop. Plus Pence is a good old boy. The Dems would hate having him as President.

  2. Great article.

    The past and present FBI agents said it all. Comey is full of himself. Those that waste money buying his book are buying garbage.

    Morally unfit? Was he talking about B Clinton? He disgraced the presidency more than anyone.

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