The former FBI Director also said that Trump may have obstructed justice…
(Joseph Tanfani, Los Angeles Times) Former FBI Director James B. Comey and the president who fired him lobbed rhetorical bombs at each other Sunday, with Comey calling President Trump “morally unfit” and Trump suggesting the former FBI director should be imprisoned.
Asked in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC whether he thought Russia “has something” on Trump, Comey said he believed that was “possible.”
“I think it’s possible. I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible,” Comey said in the interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
He said that thought that was still unlikely, but that unlike with other presidents, he could not rule out the possibility. “It is stunning and I wish I wasn’t saying it, but it’s just — it’s the truth,” he said.
Hours earlier, Trump blasted Comey with a vicious series of tweets attacking the former FBI chief as a “slimeball” and “slippery” and claiming that he “hardly knew this guy.”
“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!” the president tweeted.
He appeared to call for Comey’s imprisonment, declaring that Comey’s new book, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday, did not explain why he “gave up Classified Information (jail), why did he lie to Congress (jail).” Trump offered no evidence that Comey has committed either of those offenses.
In the interview, as in the book, Comey described Trump as obsessed with his own reputation — including allegations involving Moscow prostitutes — and unconcerned with counteringattacks from Russia.
He also repeated his book’s description of Trump as “untethered” to truthfulness and its statement that Trump’s White House style reminded him of the mob.
“The– the loyalty oaths, the boss as the dominant center of everything, it’s all about how do you serve the boss, what’s in the boss’ interests. It’s the family, the family, the family, the family. That’s why it reminds me so much and not, ‘So what’s the right thing for the country and what are the values of the institutions that we’re dealing with?'”
Comey’s book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” offers a withering portrait of Trump, which he described during the hour-long interview with Stephanopoulos. The network also released a transcript of Stephanopoulos’ entire five-hour interview with Comey. The interview is certain to escalate the president’s anger.
“I don’t think he’s medically unfit to be president. I think he’s morally unfit to be president,” Comey said, likening Trump to a “forest fire” that threatens the norms of American democracy.
“The challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him,” Comey said.
When he first briefed Trump about the Russia investigation, he said, no one brought up how to stop the threat — only how to manage the public relations response,
“No one, to my recollection, asked, ‘So what– what’s coming next from the Russians?'”
“You’re about to lead a country that has an adversary attacking it, and I don’t remember any questions about, ‘So what are they going to do next, how might we stop it? What’s the future look like? Because we’ll be custodians of the security of this country.’ There was none of that. It was all, ‘What can we say about what they did and how it affects the election that we just had.'”
Comey said that Trump asked him to investigate and disprove allegations contained in the so-called dossier — a collection of allegations compiled by a former British intelligence agent working for Trump’s political opponents. Trump focused repeatedly on an allegation that he had been compromised by Russian intelligence by consorting with hookers in a Moscow hotel in 2013.
“He may want me to investigate it to prove that it didn’t happen,” Comey said. “And then he says something that distracted me because he said, you know, ‘If there’s even a 1% chance my wife thinks that’s true, that’s terrible.'”
“‘And I remember thinking, ‘How could your wife think there’s a 1% chance you were with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow?’ I’m a flawed human being, but there is literally zero chance that my wife would think that was true. So, what kind of marriage to what kind of man does your wife think [that] there’s only a 99% chance you didn’t do that?”
Comey’s firing helped trigger the appointment of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
Comey, recounting his story of Trump asking him to end an investigation into Michael Flynn, former national security director, said he thought the conversation “possibly” could be obstruction.
“I mean, it’s certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice. It would depend and — 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.”
Comey also jabbed back at Trump with a tweet of his own Sunday, saying his book includes his accounts of three presidents — “2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; one serves as a counterpoint.”
By contrast with Trump, some other Republicans have tried to stay clear of the debate. On Sunday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) declined to defend Comey.
“I don’t know him very well,” Ryan said of Comey on NBC News. “I’m not trying to be evasive. But what I don’t want to do is — is join some food fight, some book-selling food fight. I don’t see any value in that.”
Ryan said again that he does not see the need for Congress to pass a law protecting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in case Trump moves to fire him. Mueller is leading the wide-ranging investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his aides committed crimes before, during or since the campaign.
“It’s not in the president’s interest to do that,” Ryan said. “We have a rule-of-law system.”
Others, however, have worked to counter Comey’s version of history. The Republican National Committee has created a “Lyin Comey” website that prominently features attacks on him from Democrats who were unhappy about his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Eleven days before the election, Comey departed from longstanding Justice Department protocol and sent a letter to Congress saying that the FBI had reopened an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server to handle her emails. Clinton and her allies have said Comey’s actions helped cost her the election.
During the interview, Comey acknowledged that at the time, he was convinced Clinton would win, and that belief probably influenced his decision to write the letters.
“I don’t remember consciously thinking about that, but it must have been because I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was going to beat Donald Trump, and so I’m sure that it was a factor,” Comey said in the interview.
“I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been, that she’s going to be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out,” he added.
8:15 p.m.: This article was updated with quotes from the ABC interview.
This article was originally published at 11:15 a.m.
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